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A 30-something, fourth-generation Japanese American, Shimabukuro was born and raised in Honolulu, the child of parents who both loved music. Shimabukuro’s mother, Carol, played the ukulele and began to teach him at age four, as soon as his fingers were big enough to reach the chords. “The first time she put it in my hands I was just mesmerized by the sound of the instrument,” he says. “Every time I played the ukulele or heard it I felt so at peace. It just brought me home.” At age 13, when his parents divorced, Shimabukuro found solace in music, retreating to his room for hours. “I just played — it wasn’t practice — I just played,” he recalls.
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