From Hawai’i

  • Roy & Kathy Sakuma

    The ukulele is like a baby,” says Kathy Sakuma. “You hold the ukulele gently—close to your heart. You hear the sweet sound of the strings and you feel instant joy and can’t help but smile and fall in love with it. We see every day how the ukulele brings smiles, healing, joy, hope. This tiny, ordinary instrument has an extraordinary way of touching the lives of people.”

    That pretty much sums up why Roy and Kathy Sakuma have tirelessly dedicated most of their lives to promoting the ukulele. Roy is unquestionably the most successful and influential ukulele teacher ever—his Roy Sakuma Ukulele Studios, now numbering four, have been an Oahu fixture for a few decades now and nurtured thousands of students,from superstar Jake Shimabukuro to folks who are happy with playing their local kanikapila gatherings. Roy organized what is regarded as the first major ukulele festival in Honolulu 50 years ago (July 1971), and over time it has grown tremendously in size and stature, attracting the biggest names of the ukulele world to the Kapiolani Park bandshell along the way. At the same time, his festivals (which also include big events on Maui and the Big Island), have always showcased his students and other young players—and raised money for scholarships and youth programs.