Known for his fast and complex finger work, Jake Shimabukuro is a ukulele virtuoso, whose music combines elements of jazz, blues, funk, rock, bluegrass, classical, folk, and flamenco. He began playing the ukulele at age 4, learning at first from his mother, who was an accomplished ukulele player and singer. In 2006, a video of his virtuosic rendition of The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was posted on YouTube, leading to viral and eventual commercial success.
Shimabukuro first captured attention in his native Hawaii in the late 1990s as part of the Hawaiian trio Pure Heart. The trio’s eponymous debut won four Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards, the first of 16 Hōkū Awards he would go on to receive as a member of groups or as a solo artist. He began to develop a following for his solo career in Hawaii and Japan through the early 2000s, signing a deal with Epic Records International in 2002. The viral popularity of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in 2006 led to greater commercial success, media appearances, and collaborations with popular musicians, including Jimmy Buffett and Bette Midler.
Shimabukuro has had multiple albums perform well on Billboard’s Top World Music Albums chart, including 2011’s Peace Love Ukulele, which reached #1. An award-winning documentary about his life and music, Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings, was released in 2012 and has since aired repeatedly on PBS. Among his accomplishments as a composer are the soundtracks to two Japanese films.