Learning to play the ukulele is a simple task. You just have to find a high-quality instrument and to travel the Web for a good teacher. It can take you less than three days to grasp the basics and less than a month to learn how to write songs on your own.
But to be an actual artist and to be a pro at playing this melodic stringed instrument requires real talent and years of hard practice. There are quite a few professional ukulele players who deserve their fame, and they usually stand out through their creativity and unique sound. Down below, we’ve curated a list of artists whom we think are the top players of the ukulele game.
Jake Shimabukuro is a name that is automatically associated with the instrument. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and is a ukulele virtuoso and a composer at the same time. His trademark is his complex and ultra-fast finger work. The artist loves to experiment with jazz, funk, folk, and flamenco.
His original compositions have received excellent reviews from the critics, and he was hired to write the soundtracks to two Japanese movies, Hula and Sideways. He reached a considerable level of fame in both Hawaii and Japan after a video of him playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” went viral.
Another artist, who is known for her lyrical complexity and punk style, is the ever-changing Amanda Palmer. She can play many instruments besides ukulele and has a quirky style that is matched by nobody else. She gives a melancholy to the instrument that cannot be imitated, which is surprising because the instrument is somewhat jolly sounding.
Amanda is also a songwriter and has reached fame with her band The Dresden Dolls. She received many awards for her music and achieved a new peak of admiration after her TED Talk and book The Art of Asking were published. Recently, she had a son with the British author Neil Gaiman, and she mentioned that she often uses the ukulele to play him lullabies.
Israel Kamakawiwoʻole is someone who needs no introduction. The Hawaiian legend became famous in 1993 after his album ‘Facing Future’ was released. He is mostly known for the refreshing medley “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World,” which is played on the ukulele.
He sang a mix of traditional Hawaiian music, jazz, and reggae. Facing Future, his most successful album, has become the best-selling Hawaiian LP of all time. He was also an activist and has fought for the rights of native Hawaiians when they were confronted with adversity and oppression.
If you are inspired by these Gods of the Ukulele, and if you feel you want to give this instrument a chance, I recommend you go through a complete article on ukulele, where you can find the best models for beginners, so you have an ideal starting point.