6 famous ukulele players and ensembles

Here are 6 of the world's most famous ukulele players

Famous ukulele players
Published: March 3, 2022 at 3:50 pm

There's no denying that the ukulele brings a smile to many faces and is loved by scores of famous musicians and celebrities, from Beatles Paul McCartney and George Harrison to 1930s singer-songwriter George Formby and modern-day Taylor Swift.

Advertisement

And the ukulele has breached many different music genres, from folk to classical, pop to country.

Here are some of its most celebrated players

Famous ukulele players

Jake Shimabukuro

The Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele, Jake Shimabukuro is a fifth-generation Japanese-American who found fame with his rendition of George Harrison’s ‘While my Guitar Gently Weeps’. He discovered the ukulele aged four and is known for his virtuoso performances that blend different styles.

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Kamakawiwo’ole’s rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ brought him to public attention after his death in 1997. The track was used in films and TV ads, but it’s the traditional Hawaiian tracks that make his album Facing Future essential listening.

Eddie Kamae

Hawaiian Kamae discovered his island’s traditional music through the ukulele. His first love was the Latin music he heard on the radio, but the ukulele allowed him to discover his musical calling. You can hear him play with slack-key guitarist Gabby Pahinui on the album Sons of Hawaii.

Debashish Bhattacharya

The ukulele can appear in strange places, here in the midst of traditional Indian music played on a range of slide guitars. ‘Slide ukulele frees me and my listeners to a place where cultural, regional and traditional barriers don’t exist,’ says Debashish.

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

You’ll find a host of their music online, but their album Top Notch is probably the best introduction to their eclectic and entertaining mix of classical, punk, jazz and disco – though nowhere near as good as seeing them play live. You can find their side project, Lutes ‘n’ Ukes, on YouTube.

Joe Brown

Advertisement

A contemporary of George Harrison, Joe Brown (right) shared his love of the ukulele and played the song ‘I’ll See You in my Dreams’ at Harrison’s memorial service. Brown is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and The Ukulele Album includes that track as well as ‘Pinball Wizard’, ‘Ace of Spades’ and ELO’s ‘Mr Blue Sky’.

Sponsored content