Alert
Close

Emergency Aid Needed After Nepal Quake – Donate Today

Highlights

Open

2015 LIFE@50+ MIAMI

Renew for 3 and attend Life at 50+ for free

Horoscope

Taurus - AARP Horoscope

Look at what your future holds if your birthday is between April 19 & May 20

AARP REALPAD

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

CONTESTS & SWEEPS

Healthy Selfies! Shows us your healthy habits!

Bob Dylan Talks!
Caucasian couple looking at a laptop computer together

Most Popular

Viewed

The Ukulele Is Hot

Just ask Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder or financier Warren Buffett

Ukeleles

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett sings and plays his ukulele with the Quebe Sisters Band at his company's annual meeting. — Rick Wilking/Reuters/Corbis

The ukulele — that humble four-stringed icon of all things cute and tuneful — is enjoying its biggest cultural upswing since Tiny Tim tiptoed through the tulips with one in 1968.

A bargain at less than $50 for an adequate model, the ukulele is acquiring new respect as a legitimate musical instrument and as an easy, relaxing way for people to discover the simple pleasure of making music at home without investing heavily in either instrument or lessons.

"The ukulele has always appealed to the older generation," says Jake Shimabukuro, 34, whose solo rendition of the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is rapidly approaching 8 million views on YouTube. "Now you see many young kids doing pop and rock tunes on it."

Recent ukulele converts include Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, who will feature the instrument during a summer tour in support of his upcoming solo debut, Ukulele Songs. The female half of popular goth-cabaret duo Dresden Dolls released Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele last year. The band Train's "Hey, Soul Singer," which treated the ukulele as just another rock instrument, reached the number three spot on Billboard magazine's pop chart in 2010. And Doris Day devotee, singer-songwriter (and occasional rapper) Nellie McKay, 28, accompanies herself on the uke as a break from her usual seat at the piano.

"Bill Gates recently picked up the ukulele," Shimabukuro notes. "And Warren Buffett is a huge ukulele fan. I even got to strum a few chords with Francis Ford Coppola. It blows my mind that these people, who have everything in the world they could want, have picked up the ukulele and found a little bit of joy."

Like countless other Hawaiian children, Shimabukuro was enrolled by his parents at Roy Sakuma's Ukulele Studios at age 6. He went on to record a series of increasingly successful albums, the most recent of which is titled Peace Love Ukulele. One of the high points of his solo gig earlier this year at Brooklyn Bowl was his ambitiously faithful cover version of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Advertisement

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Live Nation

Members save 25% or more when buying tickets in groups of four from Ticketmaster.

amazon membership benefits aarp Woman sitting on sofa using digital tablet

Members save 50% on a monthly selection of Kindle e-books from Amazon.

Member Benefit AARP Regal 2

Members pay $8 for Regal ePremiere tickets purchased online. Conditions apply.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Advertisement