Barely into his 30s, James Hill has already made a career out of knocking worlds against each other. His entertaining and unpredictable solo concerts have a world-wide audience that would be envied by many wannabe rock stars. His inspirational music seminars have made him something of a ukulele-based motivational speaker.

James Hill Ukulele Performer

Photo: James Hill official website

We caught up with the Canadian to find out more about his musical journey.

TNAP: What has been the strongest motivation for you to be in this industry?
JH: Love of music. It’s not an easy job but it’s my passion and I can’t imagine being happy doing anything else.

TNAP: Does anyone in particular influence your musical talent?
JH: Yes! Many people. My early ukulele teachers: Chalmers Doane, Peter Luongo and Jamie Thomas in particular. Also the great Hawaiian uke players like Ohta-san, Kimo Hussey and Troy Fernandez.

TNAP: Where have you performed so far and which is your most memorable gig so far?
JH: So may places! Canada, the USA, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Asia. In fact, the only continents I haven’t performed on are Africa and Antarctica! One of our most memorable performances was our first performance in Singapore: such a lovely audience, a wonderful venue and our hosts — Simon and Glyn of Ukulele Movement — were so gracious and kind.

James Hill and Anne Janelle Ukulele performer

TNAP: Have you performed for children as well? What’s the difference between performing for adults and children?
JH: Yes, I’ve performed for children’s festivals, in children’s hospitals and in many Canadian schools. Children are so honest. If they don’t like it, they’ll show it. If they love it, they can’t contain themselves! They haven’t learned how to hide their emotions. That’s the best (and occasionally the worst) part about performing for them!

TNAP: What can people expect to see at your live performances?
JH: A few surprises, a relaxed atmosphere and good, toe-tapping music.

TNAP: What tips would you give to beginners (adults and children) who wants to start learning the ukulele?
JH: Start! You will only learn by doing. Play with other people, not just with internet videos or from books. Listen to a lot of music and create your own arrangements and compositions. Try many styles and keep an open mind.

TNAP: Complete this sentence, I love playing the ukulele because…
JH: It connects me to something bigger than myself; culture, tradition and friendship. It’s not just me; I’m part of the ukulele movement!