Meet Hawaii’s most fabulous ukulele virtuoso

Taimane Gardner is a local girl from Honolulu who’s been playing ukulele since she was 5 years old. At 10, she was busking in Waikiki with her father and other musicians. By 13, she was performing with the legendary Don Ho.

If you haven’t heard Taimane perform yet, then you need to now. Start with her Tiny Desk concert

“I had months and months trying to figure out how to express myself, where I’m from, and who I am in these 15 minutes for the Tiny Desk performance,” says Taimane.

Taimane performs with high energy, and she’s incredibly versatile. Here’s her playing Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major

“I just need to express whatever is in me,” says Taimane, “and it just comes out in this very ferocious energy and people seem to be drawn to it.”

Taimane is also a composer, who happens to love matcha lattes. Check out her song “Matcha Latte”

“I want my new music to reflect what I’m going through, which is finding my roots and finding my own mana.”

Taimane has a deep love and affinity for French Polynesia — Bora Bora to be specific

We actually sat near her on the plane to Pape’ete, Tahiti in February 2023. The flight attendants kept offering to upgrade her and her partner for free to First Class, but she kindly declined.

Of course, Taimane also plays songs that have been made popular in Hawaii, like Somewhere Over the Rainbow

On the ukulele, Taimane says: “The ukulele dates back to the late 1800s when Portuguese immigrants brought the small guitar-like instrument to Hawaii. Quite a few islanders have learned to pull music magic from the ukulele,” says Taimane.

“People tend to mock the ukulele, calling it a ‘shrunken guitar,’ but it has a beauty in that it’s accessible and not scary like a guitar or piano.”

Here she is performing “Led Zeppelin meets Beethoven” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC

“My dad introduced me to Led Zeppelin, I think I was 15. Once I found Led Zeppelin it just opened doors.”

“My mom named me Taimane, which (in Samoan) means diamond.”

“I want to go as far as I can while I can, just as long as I stay healthy mentally and physically doing that.”

Speaking of ukulele virtuosos from Hawaii, you may also want to learn about Jake Shimabukuro.

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