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James Hill Ukulele

James Hill Ukulele

James Hill Ukulele

James Hill “proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that in the right hands the uke can be a formidable axe” (Ann Arbor News).

5/7/2023

St. Andrews by the Sea Episcopal Church

4212 South Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head, NC, USA

Three thousand miles east of Honolulu is the town of Langley, British Columbia, where ukulele instruction has been mandatory in many schools since the late 1970s. To James Hill’s fourth grade classmates, the ukulele was a means to an end, a way for them to dip their toes into the vast ocean of music. But for James, the uke was a sea of possibilities unto itself and inside its tiny wooden shell he saw his life in music. He was hooked.


During his teenage years James honed his skills as a key member of the renowned Langley Ukulele Ensemble.  In a full-circle plot twist, James – also a passionate teacher – went on to co-author the Ukulele in the Classroom method book series with J. Chalmers Doane, the trail-blazing teacher who pioneered the use of ukuleles in Canadian schools.  In 2010, James and his father Barry, a retired school teacher, launched the JHUI Teacher Certification Program, the first of its kind in the world.  His most ambitious educational offering to date is Uketropolis.com, home to unique ukulele courses like Ukulele Jazz, UkuleleX, The Ukulele Way, Booster Uke and the JHUI Teacher Certification Program.


James Hill has come a long way from that fateful day in fouth-grade music class.  A seasoned performer with a fan base in North America, Asia and Europe, he has garnered wide acclaim for his ground-breaking approach to a chronically-underestimated instrument.  Over the course of his first three genre-defying albums – Playing it like it isn’t... (2002), On the Other Hand (2003) and A Flying Leap (2006) – he re-wrote every rule that had previously kept the ukulele in the realm of novelty and obscurity. Then came the Canadian-Folk-Music-Award-winning True Love Don’t Weep (2009), his collaboration with cellist/singer Anne Janelle Davison, an album that pushed the budding singer/songwriter into new territory, topped folk radio charts in North America and opened doors to festival stages across the continent. 

Man With a Love Song (2011), reached a new plateau yet again.  “An album for troubled times," wrote TRAD magazine, "joie de vivre, tenderness and musical perfection."  “Stellar," proclaimed Exlaim! Magazine, "A fantastic album from a man who makes songwriting seem effortless.”  Seemingly overnight, Hill had made the delicate transition from instrumentalist to songwriter. The Old Silo, produced by Joel Plaskett and nominated for a JUNO Award, saw Hill cut a deep, winding path through Folk, Roots Rock and Americana. “Hill has come into his own as a songwriter,” wrote Penguin Eggs magazine, “He's obviously got a big heart as well as nimble hands.”

A singer, songwriter, educator and virtuoso instrumentalist, James Hill is a man on a musical mission.  It's a mission that reaches beyond the concert stage and into communities, homes and classrooms around the world.  After all, when the applause fades and the stage goes dark you can still hear the sound of ukuleles strumming happily into the night...


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