HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – It’s hard to imagine ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro getting the jitters in the recording studio.
But laying down a track with country legend Willie Nelson can have that effect.
“I was so nervous. I knew that I was going to have one, maybe two chances to get it right,” Jake said.
Their collaboration on the classic ballad “Stardust” is one of 16 songs Shimabukuro recorded with musical heavyweights for his new album “Jake & Friends.”
The entire project took four years to complete.
“Each track is so different and so unique and tells its own story,” he said.
The concept for a collaboration album came out of a talk he had with his manager, Van Fletcher.
“We were having a conversation and he had mentioned, ‘Yeah, we should do a project like this.’ And in the back of my mind I was like, ‘Aww, that ain’t ever going to happen,’” he joked.
Nelson was the first artist they went after, recording “Stardust” in a studio on Maui.
“Once we finished his track it gave the album momentum and credibility. Then it was a lot easier to get other people on board,” Shimabukuro said.
The roster is stacked with a who’s who of musical heavyweights from Michael McDonald to Kenny Loggins, Jack Johnson, and Bette Midler.
“I told her, ‘My mom’s favorite song is ‘The Rose.’ She would sing that to me all the time when I was a kid and when she would go to sing karaoke. She said, ‘OK! Done! We have to do that one now.’ I was like, ‘Yes!’” Jake said.
For fans of his ukulele artistry, there are instrumental trade-offs with great players like bluegrass guitarist Billy Strings and blues player Warren Haynes.
“Billy Strings is unbelievable, and trading riffs with Warren Haynes, going back and forth was just mind-blowing,” Jake said.
Among the other artists are Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Ziggy Marley, and Jesse Colin Young. Jake released “Stardust” and “Two High,” a recording with the group Moon Taxi, on his YouTube channel.
The album release is set for November 12.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are, I think there’s something on there that will connect with everyone,” he said.
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