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Ukulele Legend Performs On South Coast As Part Of Arts Outreach Project

Ukulele artist Jake Shimabukuro does a special performance for about a thousand students in Santa Barbara County, as part of a UCSB Arts and Lectures outreach program

Imagine seeing rock legend Jim Morrison, or jazz great Ella Fitzgerald in person. About a thousand elementary school students in Santa Barbara’s Granada Theater are getting the chance to see a man who’s considered to be one of the world’s leading ukulele artists.

Jake Shimabukuro has had an amazing career. But, it started out of what something most of his relatives did for fun. He says virtually everyone in his family played. Shimabukuro’s mother started giving him lessons when he was four.

He admits he couldn’t sing, but soon began turning popular music into ukulele-friendly arrangements, from rock, to classical. Shimabukuro signed with a record label in 2001, but it was a 2005 YouTube video which made him a global sensation.

At the Granada Theater, the kids are entertained and inspired by his music. Members of Kelly Hammond’s Mountain View Elementary School 6th grade class have been taking ukulele lessons, and say seeing the master in person makes them want to work harder. 

The special Arts Adventures concert is being put on by UC Santa Barbara’s Arts and Lectures.  The arts organization brought Shimabukuro to Santa Barbara to do a pair of special educational events at the Granada, and at UC Santa Barbara.

He says as a father of two boys, he loves working with kids. But, he says he has the same goal with all audiences, which is to make people smile.