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Uke Heads: Master ukulele player's new album combines love of playing and teaching

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A musician known across the globe for his skills in ukulele playing says his love of the instrument started at a young age.

World-renowned, award winning master ukulele player James Hill says he first picked up a uke when he was eight-years-old.

"The sound of the ukulele is just appealing. People are just drawn to it," said Hill in an interview with CTV Atlantic's Katie Kelly.

Hill and his partner Anne both grew up on the West Coast of Canada. However, he credits the East Coast for his musical journey.

"The thing that I don't know if everybody knows, even from here understands, is how important Halifax is to the music scene in Canada," said Hill.

"In the 60s, a guy named Chalmers Doane started teaching ukulele in schools and that was so successful that it caught on across the country."

James Hill and his partner Anne are seen in this photo.

Now, Hill also teaches others how to play the instrument first popularized in Hawaii.

"Kind of think of it as like, ukulele – pass it on. So, people come up to you in the street if you're holding a ukulele. People will come up to you and say, 'Hey, that looks like fun. Can you show me how to play something?’'" he said.

"So, you have to be ready to teach. You have to be ready to pass it on and that drew me into teaching."

Hill says his new album called "Uke Heads" combines his love for playing and teaching.

"Uke Heads was an opportunity to sort of find a third rail between those two lives," Hill explained.

Hill put a call out to fans and friends from all over the world to be part of the record.

"And in the end, 165 of them actually took the time to learn the songs, play the songs, record the songs, send me their recordings and it all added up to one pretty awesome record," he said.

"The musical vibe is actually pretty rockin'. When you invite hundreds of people to play on your record, you want songs that are like, pretty bangin'... I can only sort of describe it is as a creative community. It's a new way of thinking about making music and interacting with your fans."

Hill's music can be found on his website.

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