Ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro recently participated in the GRAMMY Museum's Spotlight series. Before an intimate audience at the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, Shimabukuro discussed creating musical arrangements, covering the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and working with producer Alan Parsons on his latest album, 2012's Grand Ukulele, among other topics. Shimabukuro also performed the title track off his 2005 album, Dragon, as well as "More Ukulele" from Grand Ukulele.
"The coolest thing about [Grand Ukulele], and I think what Alan [Parson's] is most proud of with this record as well, is everything was recorded live," said Shimabukuro. "Even when I played with a 30-piece orchestra we were all in the studio, and we all played together, and it was just a rush … when you're playing and you're just feeling everyone breathing together … it's amazing."
Born in Honolulu, Shimabukuro was gifted his first ukulele and lesson at age 4, courtesy of his mother. Following a stint with local trio Pure Heart, in 2001 Shimabukuro launched a solo career and released his debut album, The Ehime Maru (In Memory Of), on independent label Surfside Records. A year later he signed with Epic Records, releasing Skyline. In 2006 he released Gently Weeps, an album featuring a cover of the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Gently Weeps reached No. 2 on Billboard's Top World Albums chart. Shimabukuro followed with 2007's My Life, which features covers of Judy Garland's "Over The Rainbow," Led Zepellin's "Going To California" and Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." Peace Love Ukulele was released in 2011 and topped the Top World Albums chart. In addition to nine original songs, the album features covers of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
Shimabukuro's latest album, Grand Ukulele, was released in 2012 and peaked at No. 2 on the Top World Albums chart. Produced by legendary Beatles and Pink Floyd engineer Parsons, the 12-track album features eight original songs as well as covers of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" and Sting's "Fields Of Gold." Shimabukuro is currently in the midst of an international tour, with dates scheduled through September.
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include An Evening With Joe Boyd (April 29), Elvis And The Birth Of Rock And Roll: A Discussion With Alfred Wertheimer (May 1), The Drop: Iron And Wine (May 6), and Live From The GRAMMY Museum: Richard Marx (May 8).