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Brittni Paiva: Creatively Pushing The 'Ukulele Outside The Box

This week, I wanted to feature a female ‘ukulele player for Women’s History Month. Coincidently, when contemplating and searching for women uke players, award-winning instrumentalist Brittni Paiva's name popped up.

Brittni is a 3-time Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner and has received numerous accolades and honors. Her playing style propels the 'ukulele to a whole other level. Her 5th album was nominated and won Ukulele Album of the Year and Instrumental Composition of the Year from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts. She is currently working on her 6th album, where she has been doing much of her own production. Remembering Brittni from a 'Ukulele Friends Hawai'i livestream, I reached out to see if she had a moment for a quick chat.

How did you get your start, and who inspired you to make music?

Introduced to music at a young age, Brittni began classically learning piano at the age of four. By eleven, her grandfather introduced her to her first uke, a vintage mid-1950s Kamaka that had belonged to her great-grandmother. She was immediately smitten. For 2 years, she took lessons from a family friend until she finally outgrew her instructor. Needing a challenge, she eventually went toward a method of autodidacticism. She is also a multi-instrumentalist and plays guitar, bass, and drums, as well as sings.

What is your favorite song to perform?

Brittni appreciates Ellie Goulding's music-styling for looping and features her songs during performances. For those unaware of what looping is, looping creates a repeating section of notes or rhythmic beats that creates the different layers of a song. Check out Brittni's rendition of Ellie Goulding's Lights.

What is your creative process like?

Brittni enjoys rearranging songs and giving them her own personal flair (have you seen her version of David Guetta's Titanium?). She enjoys the challenge of working with a song that has been previously recorded and putting her twist on it while maintaining the original songwriter's intent. Brittni is also well-known for her looping talents (check out her performance of Sam Smith’s La La La; it is amazing to see her work her magic). Additionally, before each performance, she likes to meditate to clear her heart and mind.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

After working with music legends such as Taj Mahal and Carlos Santana, Brittni said she would love to collaborate with singer-songwriter Charlie Puth.

Have you faced any challenges as a woman in the music industry?

The 'ukulele community is very accepting of women players. During her teen years, she faced the challenge of establishing herself as a serious musician. But added, things have become better for young people entering the music business.

How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?

The internet has allowed music to become more accessible and easily shared. Because of it, Brittni has been able to work, record, and contribute parts of songs with other artists worldwide.

What is the best advice you have been given?

In 2013, Brittni met Carlos Santana during his tour kick-off in Hawai'i. During their conversation, he shared some industry knowledge and words of wisdom. One of the most important pieces of advice he gave was if she wanted to be in the music industry to be famous, she would be in it for the wrong reason.

What is next for you?

Brittni misses traveling and, when it is safe, looks forward to touring again. She also wants to produce other artists' music and help musicians advance their careers by sharing her knowledge.

What is one message you would give to new 'ukulele players?

Always remember the joy you felt when you first picked up your instrument and remember that feeling.

Be sure to connect with Brittni online. You can find her on YouTube, Instagram @brittnipaivamusic, Facebook Brittni Paiva, Twitter @brittnipaiva, or through her website, Until next time, happy strumming!

Photo credit: Brittni Paiva

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