January 23rd, 2012
03:13 PM ET

Jake Shimabukuro redefines an instrument

His enthusiasm for the ukulele is infectious. His mastery of the instrument is jaw-dropping. Hawaii-born Jake Shimabukuro was chosen to be our first musical "Next Lister" – not only for his virtuosity on the four-stringed instrument but also for fundamentally altering how the instrument is perceived by millions of people.

You don't have to look too far to see that the ukulele's popularity is on the rise. Underground ukulele clubs are popping up. Bands are being formed. Even celebrities like Warren Buffet, Eddie Veder and Francis For Coppola have found solace in the ukulele's simplicity. A quick search for 'ukulele' on Youtube will yield tens of thousands of creative covers and original diddies that inspire and delight. Search 'Jake Shimabukuro' and you'll find that several of his videos have been viewed by millions – a testament to his skill and popularity.

Shimabukuro truly believes the 'uke' is an instrument of peace, hence the title of his new album: "Peace, Love, Ukelele." And, indeed, Shimabukuro's amiability personifies the album's credo (although, his quick and volatile hands while rapidly strumming his uke seem anything but peaceful).

Shimabukuro's approach to songs on the ukulele often shatter convention. There's an unexpected sophistication that defies the instrument's perceived limitations. His musical palette is eclectic – encompassing rock, jazz, old 'uke' standards, and covers of songs no one would ever think to play.

Watch The Next List's profile of Jake Shimabukuro, and you'll see why he's another one of our agents of change.

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Filed under: Innovation • Music • The Next List
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. In home Personal Training

    His videos have been viewed by millions – a testament to his skill and popularity seriously that is no easy feet. He is building an internet
    following. Nothing can stop him now.

    April 17, 2014 at 7:39 am | Reply
  2. Surfer George

    I had the JOY of catching Jake in Honolulu when he was JUST breaking in to the local scene. He was astounding, right from the beginning.
    Watched the Next segment and I'm glad to see that he has evolved so well. I would have said at the time that he couldn't get much better, listening to him now with how his mind and heart are relating to the instrument, I can see he'll be a virtuoso in a class with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma.

    August 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Reply

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