Jake Shimabukuro performing in Joshua Tree, California in 2007.
November 3, 1976 |
Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
|Genres||Jazz, blues, funk, rock, classical, bluegrass, folk, flamenco|
|Associated acts||Pure Heart|
Jake Shimabukuro (born November 3, 1976 in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi) is a ukulele virtuoso known for his complex finger work. His music combines elements of jazz, blues, funk, rock, bluegrass, classical, and folk. Shimabukuro has also composed numerous original compositions, including the soundtracks to two Japanese films, Hula Girls (2007) and the Japanese remake of Sideways (2009).
Shimabukuro's mother gave him an ukulele at age four and he quickly took an interest in the instrument. A fifth generation Japanese-American, Shimabukuro initially gained attention in Hawaii in 1998 as a member of Pure Heart, a trio with Lopaka Colón (percussion), and Jon Yamasato (guitar). Shimabukuro was working at a music store in Honolulu when the group released its eponymous first album, featuring a sound and style somewhat similar to the Kaʻau Crater Boys. Their first album won them four Na Hoku Hanohano Awards (the Hawaiian counterpart of the Grammy Awards) from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts: Island Contemporary Album of the Year, Most Promising Artist(s), Album of the Year and Favorite Entertainment of the Year, the latter determined by unrestricted public vote. The album, Pure Heart, was also named one of the Top 50 Hawaiian albums of all time by Honolulu Magazine.
The following year, they released Pure Heart 2, which earned them another Hoku award for Island Contemporary Album of the year. Yamasato informed the others that he was quitting the group via a newspaper story that ran in the Honolulu Advertiser on Thanksgiving Day, and Shimabukuro and Colón formed another group, Colón, which they named in honor of Colón's father, famed percussionist Augie Colón. The new guitarist was Guy Cruz, younger brother of the Kaʻau Crater Boys' Ernie Cruz, Jr., and John Cruz. Colón won the Hoku Award for Favorite Entertainer of the Year in 2001, after which Shimabukuro decided to pursue a solo career.
Between 2002 and 2005, Shimabukuro released four albums as a solo performer: Sunday Morning (2002), Crosscurrent (2003), Walking Down Rainhill (2004), and Dragon (2005). As a solo artist after the break-up of Colón, he experimented with using effect pedals to make new sounds that few would associate with an ukulele. In 2005 he released an instructional DVD called Play Loud Ukulele.
In April 2006, Shimabukuro came to national and international attention when someone posted a virtuosic video of him playing George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on YouTube. The video quickly went viral, and has received nearly 12 million views. The video performance resulted in a huge uptick in concert and collaboration requests. Shimabukuro released his fith album, Gently Weeps, in September 2006. Also in 2006, he composed the music to the Japanese film Hula Girls, which featured hula dancing and a Hawaiian spa resort as its primary theme and setting respectively.
In 2009, Shimabukuro released his concert CD, Live, which captures him in performance at various venues around the world: New York, Chicago, Japan, and Hawaii. In November 2009, he accompanied fellow Hawaii-born Bette Midler at the Royal Variety Performance. They performed a rendition of the Beatles song "In My Life" as the first of Midler's three-song set, and afterwards they met Queen Elizabeth II and shook her hand.
Shimabukuro's 2012 album, Grand Ukulele, was produced by Alan Parsons. It includes a 29-piece orchestra and rhythm section, with the ukulele as solo instrument, and was recorded live with no over-dubbing.
Shimabukuro is the key spokesman for the Music Is Good Medicine organization, which uses community outreach programs – and visits to schools, senior centers, and hospitals – to emphasize the importance of a healthy life and mind as well as promoting music and the arts.
In 2012, a one-hour documentary film about Shimabukuro's life and career was released, titled Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings. The film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Ashland Independent Film Festival, and was aired on PBS in May 2013.
Shimabukuro plays a custom-made 4 string tenor ukulele from Kamaka Ukulele.
Personal life 
Shimabukuro married OB/GYN physician Kelly Yamasato in May 2011. They have a son, Chase, born in August 2012. Shimabukuro's career-long manager is Kazusa Flanagan, a native of Japan who moved to Hawaii in 1992.
- Pure Heart member
- 1999 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Pure Heart – Best Album of the Year
- 1999 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Pure Heart – Island Contemporary Album of the Year
- 1999 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Most Promising Artist (Pure Heart)
- 1999 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Favorite Entertainer of the Year (Pure Heart)
- 2000 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Pure Heart 2 – Contemporary Album of the Year
- Colón member
- 2001 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Favorite Entertainer of the Year (Colón)
- Solo artist
- 2003 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Sunday Morning – Instrumental Album of the Year
- 2003 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Favorite Entertainer of the Year
- 2004 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Crosscurrent – Instrumental Album of the Year
- 2005 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Walking Down Rainhill – Instrumental Album of the Year
- 2006 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Favorite Entertainer of the Year
- 2007 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Gently Weeps – Instrumental Album of the Year
- 2010 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Live – Instrumental Album of the Year
- 2010 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Favorite Entertainer of the Year
- 2012 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Peace Love Ukulele – Instrumental Album of the Year
- 2012 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards: Favorite Entertainer of the Year
- Pure Heart
- 1999 Hawaii Music Awards: New Artist of the Year (Pure Heart)
- 1999 Hawaii Music Awards: "Koke'e" – Best Music Video (Pure Heart) (4 winners)
- 2000 Hawaii Music Awards: Pure Heart 2.5 – Best Seasonal Album (Pure Heart)
- Solo artist
- 2002 Hawaii Music Awards: Mahalo Award, Studio Musician of the Year
- 2002 Hawaii Music Awards: "Ehime Maru" – Best Single Recording
- 2003 Hawaii Music Awards: Sunday Morning – Instrumental Hawaiian Album of the Year
- 2004 Hawaii Music Awards: Entertainer of the Year
- 2004 Hawaii Music Awards: Cross Current – Album of the Year
- 2004 Hawaii Music Awards: Cross Current – Instrumental Hawaiian Album of the Year
- 2005 Hawaii Music Awards: Walking Down Rainhill – Best Ukulele Album
- 2005 Hawaii Music Awards: Play Loud Ukulele – DVD of the Year, 2nd Place
- 2006 Hawaii Music Awards: Dragon – Best Rock Album
- 2008 Hawaii Music Awards: My Life – Best Ukulele Album
- 2008 Hawaii Music Awards: Hula Girls – Best Film Score
- 2010 Hawaii Music Awards: Live – Best Ukulele Album
Award-winning collaborations 
- With other artists
- Love Is My Religion – 2007 Best Reggae Album (ukulele backup for Ziggy Marley)
- Songs of Joy & Peace (Yo-Yo Ma) – 2010 Best Classical Crossover Album (duet with Ma in "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)")
- Pure Heart
- Pure Heart (1999)
- Pure Heart 2 (1999)
- Pure Heart 2.5 (1999) (Christmas album)
- The Groove Machine (2000)
- Solo career
- Sunday Morning (2002)
- Crosscurrent (2003)
- Walking Down Rainhill (2004)
- Dragon (2005)
- Gently Weeps (2006)
- Hula Girls (2007) (film soundtrack)
- My Life (2007)
- Live (2009)
- Peace Love Ukulele (2011)
- Grand Ukulele (2012)
- Japan-only releases
- Skyline (2002)
- Haruyo Koi (2007)
- Yeah (2008)
- Ichigo Ichie (2008)
- Annon (2009)
- The Music of Sideways (2009)
- Across the Universe (2009)
- Aloha To You (2011)
- Ukulele X: 10th Anniversary Collection (2011)
- Ukulele Disney (2012)
- Play Loud Ukulele (2005) (instructional)
- Million Miles Away (2005) (concert performance)
- Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings (2012) (documentary film featuring Shimabukuro)
- "Jake Shimabukuro". musicplayer.com. September 2005. Archived from the original on 2012-02-14.
- Official biography
- Virtuoso more than a novelty act
- "Guest: Jake Shimabukuro". Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, episode aired March 12, 2013. PBS Hawaii. (transcript)
- Jake Shimabukuro playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on YouTube
- Jake Shimabukuro – Awards at AllMusic
- Belsky, Joshua. "Sneak Peek: Peace, Love and Ukulele with Jake Shimabukuro". CNN.
- Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings at the Internet Movie Database
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Jake Shimabukuro|
- Official sites
- Official website
- Jake Shimabukuro at the Internet Movie Database
- Official YouTube channel
- Jake Shimabukuro at AllMusic
- Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings – 2012 documentary viewable online through August 8, 2013
- Peak rankings on Billboard's World Album chart
- Performance videos
- "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
- Duet with Yo-Yo Ma of "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
- Jake Shimabukuro collection at the Internet Archive's live music archive
- Interview on NPR (2006)
- Interview with AsiaXpress.com (2006)
- Interview with LiveUkulele.com (2009)
- Interview on NPR (2011)