JPR Live Session: Jake Shimabukuro (2015)

Oct 27, 2015

Known for his energetic strumming on the ukulele, Jake Shimabukuro's performances incorporate elements of thoughtful, sophisticated arrangements to spontaneous, improvised passages. In addition to his original compositions, his repertoire includes Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Schubert’s Ave Maria and Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Jake’s life has always centered on the ukulele. He started playing at the age of four, urged by his mother who also played. Jake began his music career in the mid-90’s, performing at local coffee shops as a sideman with his first band, Pure Heart. But Jake’s solo career began in 2002 when he signed with Epic Records, becoming the first ukulele player to sign with Sony Music. While his well-received solo releases positioned Jake as an established musician in Hawaii and Japan, his career skyrocketed when a cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” went viral on YouTube with more than 13 million views, opening the rest of the world’s eyes to Jake and his unique playing style.

In the years since the YouTube clip aired, Jake has collaborated with an array of artists that include Yo-Yo Ma, Jimmy Buffett, Bette Midler, Cyndi Lauper, Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Dave Koz, Michael McDonald, Bela Fleck and The Flecktones, Tommy Emmanuel, and Lyle Lovett – as well as orchestras around the world. He’s sold out world-class venues, played at Bonnaroo, SXSW, the Playboy Jazz Festival, Fuji Rock Festival, the influential TED conference, and even performed for Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Performance in Blackpool, England. He has topped Billboard’s World Music Chart numerous times, been declared a musical “hero” by Rolling Stone Magazine, which also stated: “one of the hottest axemen of the past few years doesn’t actually play guitar.