Singing
Man works three instruments on one ukelele playing Michael Jackson song
I don't know how he's managing to pull off all these sounds with his hands and a ukelele but he's doing it in serious style. Easily the most creative take on a classic hit I've ever heard.
Ashleigh Schalkwyk
01.12.22

With the rise of social platforms like YouTube, it is so much easier to reach a worldwide audience with your music. The internet has changed how artists are getting “discovered.”

In the modern era, it’s no longer necessary to build a following in your community and wait to be snapped up by an agent or a record label.

Now, anyone can upload their performances online for free – and some of the virtually unknown talents out there are finally being heard.

James Hill is one of them.

Pixabay
Source:
Pixabay

James Hill has a unique musical style – so much so that his videos on YouTube are making people all over the globe sit up and take notice.

Hill is a rising star in the ukulele community and he’s been compared to the likes of Jake Shimabukuro and Taimane Gardner.

In fact, his performances have inspired a whole new wave of artists to try their hand at the ukulele.

His natural talent doesn’t end there.

Hill is a classically trained musician who, according to his website:

“gives the ukulele its dignity back without ever taking himself too seriously.”

Drawing heavily from folk, roots rock, and Americana, his songs are catchy, energetic, and genre-breaking.

He’s on a mission to bring the humble ukulele out of obscurity.

And he’s doing it in style!

YouTube/Jonathan Moyer
Source:
YouTube/Jonathan Moyer

Hill is always looking for new ways to delight and impress his audience – there is even a video of him playing his ukulele with a pair of chopsticks and a comb.

Although he has a lot of videos on his YouTube channel, his performances of cover songs showcase him at his most innovative.

Hill also displays fantastic showmanship.

Hill has a natural and easy way of interacting with the crowd that makes his performances feel intimate.

He’s also got a natural talent for showmanship and driving audience engagement… this is what makes the ukulele wizard’s shows so legendary.

But one performance, in particular, has amassed more than 6.7 million views on YouTube. And it’s not hard to see why.

The cover of all covers.

YouTube/markwitz
Source:
YouTube/markwitz

Hill was performing at the Don Quixote International Musical Hall in Felton, California.

And what’s so entertaining about this performance is that Hill is, apparently, also a lowkey stand-up comedian.

He knows how to work a crowd.

YouTube/James Hill
Source:
YouTube/James Hill

He tunes up his trusty ukulele and begins to banter with his audience. He cracks a few jokes and then explains that he has trouble saving money while he’s on the road.

To save money, he travels solo.

But, he explains, there’s a caveat to traveling on his own.

YouTube/markwitz
Source:
YouTube/markwitz

Hill says that playing without a band is challenging because he’s the only one playing an instrument, so he asks the audience for some help.

He asks them to imagine that there’s a bass player, a pianist, and a drummer on stage with him.

He goes on to demonstrate each separate part they will play on his ukulele and asks the audience to imagine his “imaginary band” very hard.

Then, he begins to play a very recognizable bassline from a Michael Jackson tune.

“Billie Jean”

YouTube/markwitz
Source:
YouTube/markwitz

He adds the percussion by tapping on his ukulele and slowly begins to add in all the other parts of “the band” – piano, bass, and guitar.

The performance is absolutely mindblowing – James Hill is literally playing three different parts of “Billie Jean” on one ukulele at the same time!

See James Hill and his “imaginary band” in the video below!

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By Ashleigh Schalkwyk
hi@sbly.com
Ashleigh Schalkwyk is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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