Taimane Gardner reflects on Nā Hōkū Hanohano win, her new album and where it all began for her

Taimane Gardner reflects on Nā Hōkū Hanohano win, her new album and where it all began for her

If you’ve never seen Taimane Gardner perform her magic on the ukulele, you are missing out. The musician, singer and composer has been called a virtuoso. Talk Story host McKenna Maduli was invited to tag along as Gardner visited one of her favorite places to make music, Rendez-Vous Recording studio. At the age of eleven, she was already in the studio working on her first album with Pierre Grill, the studio’s audio engineer and owner.

"Even before I had the instrument in my hands, I loved performing," said Gardner. "I was creating little dance recitals for my dog and my parents. I feel comfortable on stage. I've been playing ukulele since I was five."

This year, Gardner won her first Nā Hōkū Hanohano award for Favorite Entertainer of the Year. She's known for mashing up different genres of music. "I like other types of music too. I love classical. I love Zeppelin," Gardner explains. "This is the instrument I express myself through. And, the first song I ever learned was 'Three Blind Mice.' It (ukulele) can do so much."

Gardner’s career has taken her all over the world but she’ll never forget where it all began. “I started on the streets of Waikiki and one of the performers from the Don Ho show saw me. He said ‘uncle you’ve got to meet this girl.’ I think I was 13 at the time. I learned a lot from him (Ho). I played with him for five years. Learned what happens behind the scenes, backstage, how a whole show is put together. And then he introduced me to Auntie Cha with Tihati (Productions). So, I started doing the luau shows in Waikiki. It just started growing from there. Uncle Don and Haumea introduced me to what it’s like to be a professional musician.”

Gardner is happy to be home after several months on the road. “I’ve just been on the go for the past two years. I just did a two-month tour. I went to Europe and all over the U.S. After that I decided I am taking August off. Performing is super extraverted, and so now I am writing new music. I am going inward.”

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