Herb Ohta Jr. continues on the virtuoso ukulele playing of his legendary father, Ohta-san. His style, however, is his own and he has carved out his own niche as one of Hawaii’s premier musicians. His interest in the ukulele goes back to his childhood, when he began learning songs at the young age of 3. He studied under his father for many years, learning his father’s masterful techniques, eventually becoming inspired by other Hawaiian musicians, and dedicating his life to performing on and teaching students to play the ukulele.
In addition to his career as a performer, is a distinguished teacher of the ukulele. He began teaching at the age of 11, in Ohta-san’s school. His own career took off in his late teens, when legendary Hawaiian musicians Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau inspired him to develop an even deeper interest in the music. His teaching career, however, continued on and, in the 1990s, he began giving his own classes, which continue to this day. He also performs on a regular basis for all manner of events.
While sharing his father’s eclectic influences and interests, is very much dedicated to the traditional music of Hawaii. He appeared as a recording artist for the first time on one of his father’s albums. Like his father, Herb Ohta Jr. has proven to have a work ethic that few can match, recording over 50 albums on his own and playing a constant stream of live shows. He has won several awards over his career, including two Hawai’i Music Awards. He has been nominated for a Na Hoko Hanohano award no less than seven times during his career. Through it all, however, his primary drive has been to bring Hawaiian music to a broader audience.
He has seen a lot of success in that effort to broaden the appeal of Hawaiian music, playing to audiences nearly 10,000 strong over the years. He has also performed with some of the most notable musicians in Hawaii and his virtuosity entitles him to a spot on the stage next to the best in the business. He has also fostered interest in the ukulele among serious musicians through the publication of instructional books on this instrument, and Herb Ohta Jr. has created a body of work that further solidifies the Ohta name as among the most prestigious in Hawaiian music.
Herb Ohta Jr. continues to give classes, teaching all levels of students. His style shows much of his father’s influence and the recordings of the two playing together are incredible for the level of skill exhibited on both counts. Like many Hawaiian musicians, Herb Ohta Jr. has not only increased the level of awareness of the music of these Pacific islands, but has made it much more popular, especially among young people intrigued by the long-neglected instrument that both Ohta and his father, Ohta-san have both worked so hard to bring into the lives of people around the world.