Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro captivates with soulful performance
February 24, 2021
A pioneer who contributed to the skyrocketing popularity surge of ukulele music, Jake Shimabukuro brings a captivating evening of original music from his home in Hawaii to the Moss Arts Center’s “HomeStage” series on Thursday, March 4, at 7:30 p.m. The virtual event includes a live post-performance question-and-answer session with the artist.
With his out-of-the-box blend of stunning virtuosity and deep musicality, Shimabukuro takes the four-string, two-octave instrument to places no one has gone before. In this intimate performance, Shimabukuro will forge a deep emotional connection that is open, magical, and transcendent. Ticketholders have access to this “HomeStage” series event as it happens, and for seven days following the event.
“I just wanted to play the ukulele my way, which turns out to be very different from what everybody else has done,” says Shimabukuro, who started playing the instrument at the age of four and learned the basics from his mother. “Most people just strummed the ukulele, but I started playing melodies, and a new world opened up — I was singing through the ukulele.”
Shimabukuro first came to the world’s attention with his soulful and original take on The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The viral video of his rendition dominated YouTube in 2005 and currently has over 17 million views.
When music fans discovered Shimabukuro’s virtuosic approach to the ukulele, they were hooked. Albums, such as “Gently Weeps,” “Peace Love Ukulele," and “Grand Ukulele,” topped the Billboard World Music Charts, and the musician performed at the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center, and the Sydney Opera House, while making frequent appearances on “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”
Shimabukuro is known for his fresh and fearless musical interpretations, especially his renditions of classic songs including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Shimabukuro’s latest album, "Trio," includes his take on Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”
Free virtual ukulele workshop with Jake Shimabukuro
Shimabukuro will lead a virtual ukulele lesson for all ages and experience levels on Monday, March 1, from 6-7 p.m. Free and available to the public, this live, hands-on session gives participants the opportunity to learn directly from the virtuoso. Attendees should have a ukulele to participate. Registration is required.
Shimabukuro will also meet with Virginia Tech Asian Pacific Islander Desi-American (APIDA) students to discuss his journey as a musician in an event presented in partnership with the Asian Cultural Engagement Center at Virginia Tech.
Tickets are $10 for general public and free for Virginia Tech students. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.