Ukulele Lady Bio
Michelle's ability to think big has resulted in an amazing career as a full time ukulele entertainer, recording artist, music educator and music therapist. Michelle first embarked on a creative path as a visual artist, in graphic design. But a repetitive wrist injury forced her to make a drastic career change. Michelle became a certified nursing assistant, earned a teaching credential, and eventually took a job as an Activity Director. It was through her work that Michelle's inner performer found an unlikely outlet.
"Occasionally my scheduled entertainment would cancel at the last minute, so I'd fill in singing and playing my ukulele," says Michelle. "I wasn't very good, and I was still just learning how to play the ukulele. But the seniors were so appreciative and I discovered the ukulele was a great reminiscence tool. My friendly little instrument and music started many fun topics of discussion. The seniors were particularly fond of Hawaiian music so I taught them wheel chair hula. Other activity directors started offering to pay me to come and play for their seniors too. It wasn't long before my day job got in the way of a very unexpected career path. Itís incredibly heartwarming to watch my listenerís faces light up or sometimes becoming teary-eyed, as I sing love songs or tunes from their pasts. I see many of my clients weekly and over the years they have become my adopted kupuna, (beloved aunties and uncles)."
As a music therapist, the Ukulele Lady, engages up to 50 solo visits every month at healthcare centers, convalescent hospitals, retirement homes, mental health facilities, and Alzheimer's units in Central California.
In her role as a Music Instructor, Michelle directs the Pa Mele 'O Hokulea Ukulele Academy (Song of the Morning Star) meeting weekly in San Jose and Santa Cruz. "Most of my students play the ukulele for personal recreation, but we occasionally perform at festivals, community centers and at local nursing homes. "Public performances are our way of giving back to the community and pushes us to improve our skills," explains Michelle.
Her artistry as a dynamic singer and ukulele player is richly complemented by her "Aloha Style Band". Michelle's charming reputation has quickly reached wider audiences resulting in bigger and better gigs. In March 2002, she released her debut CD, "Under A Ukulele Moon", on her own Big Ideas label. The CD was quickly picked up by the Ukulele Hall of Fame, Jumpin' Jim Beloff's Flea Market Music, and voted Best Studio CD by a Solo Artist by the Naked Uke E-zine. Michelle newest release is a strum along songbook with a companion CD titled, "My Dog Has Fleas", December 2003. Michelle Kiba and her Aloha Style Band members expect to release their next CD , "Reflections of Aloha", in April, 2004.
Michelle has shared the stage with Na Hoku Award winners and Dancing Cat recording artists Daniel Ho, George Kahumoku Jr. and Keoki Kahumoku. She has also appeared with her personal ukulele heroes, Ukulele Dick, Oliver Brown, Jumpin' Jim Beloff, Janet Klein, Peggy Reza (Auntie Uke) and Petty & Booka from Tokyo. In August 2003, Michelle was invited to teach a workshop and perform at the 2003 Ukulele Hall Fame, Providence Rhode Island.
Contact information: Michelle Kiba, (831) 334-8537 Ukalady@cruzio.com