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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jake: ‘If you have passion and focus, you can accomplish anything’

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro shared his passion for the instrument with a delighted, packed crowd today at the Hawaii State Library. He’s at work on a new CD.

JEFF WIDENER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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A month ago, Hawaiçi ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro performed the Beatles classic “In My Life” alongside Bette Midler for Queen Elizabeth at the prestigious Royal Variety Performance in Blackpool, England, a show that also included actress-comedian Whoopi Goldberg, singer Michael Buble, and tween star Miley Cyrus.

And what was good enough for the Queen — and Bette and Whoopi and Miley — proved good enough for hundreds of Hawaiçi State Library patrons today as Shimabukuro played a free 45-minute set, heavy on Beatles covers, and shared his views on music, passion and personal expression in support of the Music Is Good Medicine community outreach program.
Music Is Good Medicine started out as a marketing concept for a local physicians group but has since evolved into a program aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles and musical and other artistic pursuits.
“I’m trying to take my passion for ukulele and music in general and use it to encourage kids to pursue their passion,” Shimabukuro said. “If you have passion and focus, you can accomplish anything.”
That was the prevailing message yesterday as Shimabukuro discussed the inspiration he draws from a wide variety of musical influences and demonstrated the ways in which he’s been able to use those influences to create music that is unique and personal.
Janel Ikehara, 45, attended the performance with her daughter Chantel and her mother, Jane Higa. Ikehara said she’s as impressed with Shimabukuro’s personality as she is with his playing.
“His music is unbelievable — I can’t believe an ukulele can make those sounds — but he’s very humble,” she said. “I’m so proud of him being from Hawaiçi.
Shimabukuro is at work on a new, as-yet-untitled CD. He is also about to embark on a Smooth Jazz Cruise series of performances with jazz greats Dave Koz, Earl Klugh, Brian Simpson and others.
For more on this story, see tomorrow’s Honolulu Advertiser.