“The ukulele has been around for more than 140 years but it’s enjoying renewed popularity, with sales of the instrument tripling in the past decade. As Melinda Breda explains, the pint-sized instrument has returned from pop culture purgatory.”
Daphne Roubini’s career arc doesn’t make much sense. Her resume includes stints as a masseuse, aroma therapist, jazz singer and a personal coach. Now, Roubini’s go-to gig is running what’s billed as the largest ukulele school — Ruby’s Ukes — outside of Hawaii, and she does it without a single cent spent on advertising.
Her first ukulele was supposed to be a gift for a child, but Daphne Roubini just couldn’t keep her hands off it. Some 10 years ago the accomplished jazz musician – a native of London, England who now calls Vancouver home – bought her nephew a blue ukulele for his second birthday. To sweeten the deal, Roubini asked her husband, musician Andrew Smith, to teach her how to play “Happy Birthday” on the little blue uke. The problem was that in the process of learning that simple little song, Roubini fell in love.
Vancouver’s First Lady and Duke of Uke, Daphne Roubini and Andrew Smith are Ukulele Jazz/Folk Balladeers. With her captivating voice and their ukulele skills, together they’ve wowed crowds at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Vancouver Jazz Fest and Mission Folk Fest, in addition to delighting audiences across Canada and their native UK.
Coming exactly as advertised, A Ukulele Album is indeed centered around the instrument favoured by four out of five descendants of Hawaii’s King Kalākaua. But don’t expect the duo of Daphne Roubini and Andrew Smith to sound like the house band at the fabulous Royal Hawaiian on this low-key but charming full-length.