Canadian Ukulele Master: James Hill

Born in Canada in 1980, James Hill had always had a deep affection for music, and this classically trained musician decided to choose the ukulele as his instrument of choice. When people think of the ukulele, they typically picture the tropical weather and sparkling waters of Hawaii. They don’t immediately conjure up images of the Great White North. However, Hill has been changing all of that over the years. In fact, since the late 1970s, many British Columbia schools made ukulele instruction mandatory, and it was in the fourth grade that he had his first introduction. This hooked him on the possibilities that this fabulous little instrument could offer.


Super Mario Brothers Theme


He stayed with the instrument and became part of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble when he was a teenager, and continued to pursue study at the University of British Columbia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 2003. He wasn’t content merely to play, though. He also wanted to teach others more about the ukulele and coauthored Ukulele in the Classroom with J. Chalmers Doane. His love for teaching continues today, and he now offers The Ukulele Way, a specialized teaching method that combines audio, video, and print.

Over the years, Hill has become renowned as one of the best ukulele players in the world, and has a large and growing fan base all around the world. One of the reasons that he’s become so popular is that he takes the ukulele to unexpected places and twists the genre in ways that no one expects.

Great Albums by James Hill

James Hill is a very prolific player, and has a number of fantastic albums under his belt. His first three albums in particular helped to change peoples’ perceptions of what was possible with the instrument. In 2002, he released Playing It Like It Isn’t, followed by On the Other Hand in 2003 and A Flying Leap in 2006. Listen to these albums and see what true possibilities the ukulele offers. He wasn’t about to stop there though. In 2009, he released True Love Don’t Weep, a collaboration album with Anne Janelle Davison, a cellist and singer. This album won a Canadian Folk Music Award. Music from the album even went on to hit the top of the folk charts in North America. Man With a Love Song, from 2011 and his most recent offering, The Old Silo, are taking him and his music to other areas still.

So, where should you start with James Hill? You can actually start with any of the albums, as they are all well worth a listen. If you are like most though, consider starting from the beginning and working your way through them. This will allow you to see and hear the journey that Hill has been making over the years. Still, there’s no bad place to begin, so get to listening right now and see just how inspiring the music is for budding and veteran ukulele players alike.


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Performances and more...

In addition to shedding light on all of the possibilities that the ukulele presents, James Hill performances are one of a kind glimpses inside of a man who truly loves music. It shows in his performance, and through the years, his songwriting ability has grown exponentially. In addition, Hill will generally conduct workshops as well as giving a performance. Those who want to know more about the instrument and how to play like a pro can gain some true insight from these workshops. If you ever get the opportunity, whether he is playing a small show or a festival, take the opportunity to see him play live. It’s an experience you will not regret.

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