Sunday, April 01, 2007
Oprah's Uke Club!
The entire ukulele community is abuzz with the news that Emmy Award winning TV host Oprah Winfrey has announced the launch of Oprah's Uke Club. According to the Oprah Alert announcement (registration required) made today, Oprah was inspired by the recent appearance of actor and uker William H. Macy on her show (see our previous story here).
Evidently, Macy was teaching Oprah a few basic chords on his Flea Ukulele after the show and happened to mention that TV pioneer Arthur Godfrey played, and how his 15 minute on-air uke lessons resulted in the ukulele's skyrocketing popularity in the 1950s (what is affectionately known as the "second wave" of the ukulele). Oprah was intrigued, and immediately got the staff at Harpo Productions to work on a concept.
Oprah's Uke Club will premiere in the fall, giving Winfrey's massive marketing machine time to ramp up for the big launch (she'll be giving away ukuleles to her studio audiences for the entire first week--book your tickets now!). Patterned after the phenomenally successful Oprah's Book Club, the Uke Club will feature Winfrey and guest performers (Macy will be back first, natch) performing duets, and Oprah will teach basic chords and strumming. It's currently only slated to be be a once-a-week feature, but if it proves popular, who knows!
Macy himself connected Oprah with ukemeister Jim Beloff, who suggested a collaboration with his brother-in-law's Magic Fluke Company, maker of the Flea and Fluke Ukuleles. If you're lucky enough to own a "Poi-ple Fluke," our guess is that you're now in possession of a genuine collector's item, as it will now be retired and soon re-released with a custom faceplate as the Oprah Fluke (shown above). Beloff will also be supporting the show with a co-branded songbook, Jumpin' Jim's Jammin' With Oprah, featuring songs from the Broadway musical adaptation of The Color Purple, which Winfrey also helped produce.
I'm sure it's too much to ask, but it would be cool if Wesley Willis's paean to Oprah was one of the tunes!
This might very well prove to be the catalyst the brings about the true resurgence of what has been, at least twice in the last 100 years, America's favorite instrument. More information at the Harpo Productions site. And here.