At 23 years of age, Brittni Paiva (pie –VAH) already a multi award-winning instrumentalist is known for her stunning articulation of what she can do on the ukulele going from slow and moving, to rapid-fire, classical-ballet, to ancient Japan, translating forms of jazz, world beat, pop, Flamenco and Latin, and filter these styles through her 4-string ukulele.
At 23 years of age, Brittni Paiva (pi –VAH) is the preeminent female `ukulele player from Hawaii. Affectionately referred to as the `ukulele darling, Brittni is a native of Hilo, on the Big Island. She is a multi-award winning, multi-instrumentalist with a prodigious gift who is wholeheartedly embraced by a global audience.
When she was just 15 years old, Brittni self-produced an award-winning debut recording. Titled, Brittni x 3, her first outing won the prestigious Na Hoku Hanohano Award from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts for Most Promising Artist of the Year in 2005. Everything you hear on this album is Brittni. The title of the 14-track CD emphasizes her deft lyrical abilities on the `ukulele, slack key guitar, and the bass.
Within the next year she produced and released Hear. It’s no surprise her sophomore release won `Ukulele Album of the Year in the Hawaii Music Awards, otherwise known as Hawaii’s People’s Choice Awards in 2006. This CD was also nominated for the Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Best Instrumental Album of the Year and Favorite Entertainer of the Year. The 12-track recording features `ukulele and slack key guitar embracing jazz, Hawaiian and Peruvian repertoire.
Simply titled, Brittni, her third self-produced album in as many years won `Ukulele Album of the Year in the Hawaii Music Awards in 2007 and was nominated for two Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. This CD was symbolic as a coming of age CD for an 18-year old who was seemingly unstoppable performing repertoire from around the world and crossing boundaries over many musical eras on a 4-string instrument.
Her fourth CD, Four Strings: The Fire Within, shares co-production credits with Charles Michael Brotman, Hawaii’s first Grammy Award-winning recipient. Acclaimed Latin guitarist, Johannes Linstead from Toronto is the featured guitarist on one cut, “Hour of the Lamps.” The timeless and universally popular “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” which reclaimed worldwide popularity by the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, is featured, but the lyrical instrumentation is unmistakably Brittni. Carlos Santana’s “Europa” is included alongside a coterie of cover tunes and originals intended to ignite a world audience with Brittni’s fiery passion.
Measured by almost two million YouTube hits, the world is listening and tuning in to hear Brittni’s influence on world music, classical favorites, and contemporary cover songs. Wherever she appears, Brittni’s audience raves about her performance as the petite 22-year old woman transforms into a world-class player on stage.
Fans from Houston, Texas traveled to California to see her perform and left this message in her extensive online guest book. “We think Brittni is one of the most talented musicians in the world, and we are looking forward to many more albums from this extremely talented young lady.” Another fan wrote, “ [I] loved your rendition of “Europa” [which] brought tears to my eyes. Wonderfully played. I envy you for playing with such feeling and technique.” And another following a different performance said, “I never knew the `ukulele could be played the way Brittni plays it. It is a thrill to hear classical music rendered so well.”
To say that Brittni has lived a blessed and unique life is an understatement. She grew up the older of two siblings within a rich heritage of cultural backgrounds. Her lineage includes Portuguese, Danish, Japanese, and Hawaiian. Brittni and her brother were home schooled and she says it was the best decision her parents made for her as it instilled unwavering self-confidence, and allowed her to develop into her true self. Home schooling allows students to excel in a range of subjects children naturally gravitate toward without the distraction of unavoidable negative behavior and peer pressures in tightly-structured, curriculum-based programs. Brittni’s mother says, if not for the `ukulele, Brittni may well have become a doctor as she could easily breeze through medical journals or factual books on any subject. Her curiosity is an insatiable gift.
Foremost, home schooling allowed Brittni to devote many hours of her day practicing music. Devoting as much as four to six hours each day to practice appears to be the foundation of Brittni’s success. Practice was a pleasurable exploration specifically on the `ukulele which she took with her nearly everywhere. Her mother looks back on that time saying there were days she was forced to redirect Brittni’s attention to do other things, like finishing her school work, completing daily chores, even going outdoors to play. Though very unassuming, Brittni is determined in what she is drawn to achieve with fearless abandon. With a busy schedule as a composer, performing and recording artist, Brittni is pursuing an online Master’s Certificate Program through the esteemed Berklee College of Music.
She was four years old when she began her musical career studying classical piano under the Suzuki method. This unique method reinforces early childhood development and cognition focusing on ear training first; then gradually introduces notation and theory as the child learns to read, allowing greater success in understanding the parallels between reading music and written language.
Seven years later her maternal grandfather, Isaac Takayama, introduced her to the `ukulele, a traditional 4-string Hawaiian instrument. The word `ukulele is a literal translation meaning “jumping flea” which native Hawaiians adopted to describe the quick-fire fingering style required to play the instrument to its full potential. Since that day, there are few things that inspire Brittni as much as the `ukulele.
Brittni and her `ukulele are a brilliant match. Both are of the same lineage. The `ukulele originated in Portugal and was “imported” to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants in the 19th century. Both are humble in nature, small in size, and very powerful with proper delivery. Brittni and the `ukulele are gaining notoriety in a variety of circles, without being confined to America’s stereotyped perception that ebbed and waned during the late 19th and early 20th centuries during the height of the Tinpan Alley and jazz eras. George Harrison, of The Beatles, was an avid `ukulele player and contributed to the instrument’s rise in popularity toward the end of the 20th century.
The 21st century is seeing a global resurgence in the instrument’s popularity and Brittni Paiva is contributing greatly to the `ukulele’s widespread appeal. Radio play, comments, and requests for Brittni’s work have come from all corners of the world including United Arab Emirates, Spain, France, Israel, Portugal, Europe, and Japan.
`Ukulele, guitar, electric bass, piano and drums are Brittni’s instruments of choice, yet when it comes to the `ukulele she invests as much soulful transparency as skill. Jon Woodhouse, editor of the Maui Beat wrote, “ `Ukulele master Eddie Kamae recognized her prodigious gift. “Brittni is different,” he proclaimed. “You can see it in her face and the way she plays her music. It comes from her soul.”
Northwest Hawaii Times review, Gregg Porter wrote, “There’s only so much you can learn from outside – her natural abilities have to kick in and take the lead. She has exceptional pitch and hearing skills and that comes through in the cleanliness of her playing whether it be on `ukulele, guitar, or bass.”
While this rising star has had some training in opera, vocals play a very small part in her work; and Brittni prefers to let the strings be her musical voice. Indeed, her technical ability and intricate playing engender remarkable musicianship making it diffcult at times to determine which instrument she is playing. She brings a rich lyrical voice to the `ukulele whether she is playing her own world-tinged compositions, something as seductive as Carlos Santana’s Samba Pa Ti, or as classically revered as Johann Pachelbel’s, Canon in D.
FAQ - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why did you choose the ukulele as your choice of instrument?
I enjoy playing the ukulele because it's small and unassuming, easy to carry around, and can play anything that other instruments can!
What kind of ukulele do you play?
I play a custom-built 4-string tenor ukulele, made of Koa with ebony binding.
Fretboard and bridge are ebony.
Head plate is ebony and has a black mother of pearl logo.
Back of the ukulele has a Star of David done in ebony.
"Brittni" inlay on fretboard done with Tulip wood.
Pick up is an LR Baggs Pickup
How is it tuned?
Occasionally, I'll play a tuning that I came up with, but I'll usually play the standard ukulele tuning of G C E A, but I use a Low G string.
What kind of strings do you prefer?
I prefer to play Worth Strings. They are from Japan, and made of fluorocarbon. I find them to be very consistent in tone and they also last longer than any other type of string I've tried in the past.
You sing some Jewish songs on your album. Why is that? Are you Jewish?
I'm not Jewish by ethnicity, but I'm Jewish by faith.
WHAT IS YOUR NEXT FAVORITE INSTRUMENT?
Definitely the drums! I love playing an instrument that is a main supporting role of a band, and I love making rhythms and beats! Recently, I've also enjoyed the electric guitar as well.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
I love working on my car and drag racing in my spare time. I enjoy modifying my car to make it go faster and faster! Once you're bitten by the turbo bug, you'll most likely never be cured!