Music is a gift, and the ability to play it is a blessing. Be grateful for both. – Anonymous
Walking up the creaky wooden steps, there are what seems like hundreds of slippers all around the front door. Soft music floats through the air, inviting me to the back yard. Aunties and Uncles fill every lawn chair and the keiki run around in the freshly cut grass. There’s a warm breeze blowing and at least a dozen friends strum along, kanikapila style, to a tune we all know and everyone sings the words to. These are the songs of my life. I am home. And I am grateful.
By now, if you know the ‘ukulele, you might know the name, the innovator who is Jake Shimabukuro. He has captivated audiences around the world with his unique and dynamic style. With his mother as his first teacher of the instrument, Jake embraced a deep love and respect for the `ukulele and has explored new and unexpected ways to push the boundaries of what was possible on the humble four-strings. Each album has showcased his mastery of the instrument and his ability to weave together diverse genres to create a cohesive and captivating musical experience. He is undoubtedly one of the most innovative and exciting musicians of his generation, changing the perception of the instrument itself and breaking barriers of what kind of music it is capable of.
Enter his newest, and most personal album yet. Grateful is a coming home for Jake. With a literal who’s who of Hawai`i based musicians, this collection of songs is performed live, in studio with Jake’s friends, contemporaries, mentors, and heroes - all kanikapila style in a return to his roots. Grateful is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed duets album with artists from Willie Nelson, Ziggy Marley and Bette Midler to Jimmy Buffett, Jack Johnson and Kenny Loggins. It was these collaborations that inspired him to go back to the beginning and play with the musicians who first inspired him as he was growing up in Hawai`i. Jake shares a connection with each and every artist on this album.
In addition to his impeccable musicianship, Jake is also a gifted storyteller, weaving together musical narratives that draw listeners in and leave them spellbound. He wanted to bring the power of each artist’s stories to this album.
Once the musicians decided on the song that they wanted to record, Shimabukuro along with producer and engineer Grande and Fletcher, worked on a plan on how to best capture the live collaboration. In the studio, the musicians played through the song a couple of times and then Michael would press record. All live in the studio and tracked in the same room together, just like the old days.
The artists on the album include Brother Noland, Bryan Tolentino, Chris Kamaka, Connor Johnson, Del Beazley, Fiji, Henry Kapono, Herb Ohta, Jr., Ignace Jang, Jeff Peterson, John Cruz, John Feary, Justin Kawika Young, Pure Heart (Jon Yamasato and Lopaka Colón), Kawika Kahiapo, Kimié Miner, Manaola, Mark Yamanaka, Pōmaika`i Keawe Lyman, Raiatea Helm, and Ron Artis II. The title track of the album, “Grateful,” is an original song by Justin Kawika Young. The two friends toured together on the mainland and the simple message from the chorus struck a chord with Jake each night as they performed it.
“And if it’s 10 years or two, or a lifetime with you,
I’ll just be grateful for what I got.
When only minutes remain, on the rest of our days,
I’ll just be grateful for what I got.”
And Jake couldn’t be more grateful.