Known for lightning-fast fingers and revolutionary playing techniques, Jake Shimabukuro is a master of the ukulele. The 31-year-old virtuoso shatters musical boundaries. Not only does he play styles previously "taboo" on the four-string, two-octave instrument, but also he is creating music never before thought possible. While Jake has great respect and love for traditional Hawaiian ukulele music, his mission is to show everyone that the ukulele is capable of so much more.
At just four years of age, Jake's mother gave him his first ukulele lesson. "When I played my first chord I was hooked," says Jake, "I fell in love with the instrument." That love grew into a deep passion to create and innovate.
Jake views the ukulele as an "untapped source of music with unlimited potential." His ever-expanding repertoire includes jazz, blues, funk, classical, bluegrass, folk, flamenco, and rock. Countless hours of practicing, three award-winning solo albums and two music DVDs later, Jake continues to strum, pluck, distort, and tap into the uke's potential.
By experimenting with various guitar effect pedals, Jake generates a heavily amplified "dirty" sound drawing comparison to guitar legends such as Jimi Hendrix and Van Halen. When unplugged, Jake masterfully extracts the pure "clean" natural acoustic sound of the uke, delicately making a single note cry or smile.
From a modest beginning performing at the local café to performing in front of 25,000 at Great Woods in Boston and 42,000 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Jake has earned the reputation as an incredible performer. He's also played venues such as the House of Blues and The Knitting Factory in Los Angeles, B.B. King's Nightclub in NYC and the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. A true showman, his performances captivate audiences with intricate strumming and plucking techniques, electrifying, high-energy grooves and smooth, melodic ballads evoking heartfelt emotion.
In June 2002, Jake became the first ukulele player from Hawaii to sign with Epic Records International, a division of Sony Music International. In 2005, Jake acquired a national distributor deal and signed with William Morris Agency, the world's largest and most diversified talent agency. Looking forward to the release of his self-produced fourth solo album, DRAGON, Jake has much success to reflect upon.
Four Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (Hawaii's Grammy) and four Hawaii Music Awards for his solo and band albums firmly cement Jake's status as one of Hawaii's greatest musicians. Increasing national exposure for his third solo album, Walking Down Rainhill, landed it on Billboard's World Music chart.
Selection as the "image character" for Hawaii Tourism Japan's (HTJ) aggressive campaign to market Hawaii to Japan, as well as his frequent tours of the island nation, have made Jake Shimabukuro a household name in Japan. "Rainbow," a track from Walking Down Rainhill, was also selected as HTJ's commercial song and as the official Honolulu Marathon theme song.
Jake's musical accomplishments are well known throughout the Hawaiian Islands and Japan, though he is perhaps known equally as well for his outgoing personality and warm heart. In his spare time Jake often visits schools to talk with and play music for the children of Hawaii, hopefully inspiring thousands to put their energy into learning about and playing music.
Following the fatal collision between a U.S. submarine and a Japanese fishing vessel in Hawaiian waters in February 2001, Jake composed EhimeMaru to honor the nine victims and their families. Proceeds were donated to a fund benefiting the families. Although he did not intend to gain recognition for this private work, Ehime Maru gained worldwide recognition and acclaim.
The State of Hawaii recognizes Jake as an outstanding musician and role model for the people of Hawaii. In 2004 Jake was named Hawaii's goodwill ambassador to Japan and received"The Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation" for being an active voice in U.S.-Japan relations at the grassroots level.
Jake is recognized as a virtuoso not only by his audience, but also by fellow musicians and producers as well. In November 2002, Jake had the pleasure of opening for and performing with Grammy Award winning group, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Fleck appreciated Jake's enthusiasm and musicianship so much that he had Jake record on the band's latest album, Little Worlds, and invited Jake to tour with the band in 2004 and 2005.
Jake has also had the opportunity to perform with and/or open for Bobby McFerrin, John Hiatt, Victor Wooten, Chance and Mista D of Nashville's MuzikMafia, Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, Les Paul, Fiona Apple, Diana Krall, Jamie Cullum, Kaki King, Take 6, Stanley Clarke, Blues Traveler, Toto, Jimmy Buffett and Stephen Bishop.
Energy, imagination, and innovation have been Jake's keys to success. He plans to continue recording, performing, collaborating, and staying happy. "I love what I do. I'm forever thankful for music."