The Recording Academy recently launched a new series titled ReImagined, with the first installment featuring ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. Linking GRAMMY history with the present, this performance-based series features an artist interpreting an iconic GRAMMY-winning song, personal insights and performances of original music.
Shimabukuro performs an instrumental rendition of "Over The Rainbow," the classic pop song sung by Judy Garland in 1939's The Wizard Of Oz. The song was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1981 and was also featured on Garland's Judy At Carnegie Hall, which won Album Of The Year in 1961 and was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1998. Shimabukuro also performs two original songs, "143 (Kelly's Song) 2011" and "Bring Your Adz."
"When I was coming up with the arrangement, I didn't want to try and overdo it," said Shimabukuro regarding "Over The Rainbow." "I just wanted to make sure that the melody was heard and just add a little bit of color. With the ukulele, you only have four strings so you can't get too complicated."
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 Sunday Morning. 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 World Albums chart. Released in 2007, My Life features a studio recording of "Over The Rainbow," Led Zeppelin's "Going To California" and Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." Shimabukuro has played live with Jimmy Buffett and Béla Fleck, performed for Queen Elizabeth II and appeared in Just Go With It, a 2011 romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston.
Peace Love Ukulele, Shimabukuro's most recent studio album, was released in 2011 and topped the World Albums chart. In addition to nine original songs, the album features covers of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."