2020: A Year in Review
As we look back on a challenging year of unprecedented change and hardship in the music community, we want to take a moment to offer our most sincere thanks to all of you in the world of ukulele and U•BASS®. Equipped with your favorite instruments and songs, your unparalleled optimism and passion for making and sharing music with one another has been such a ray of light for all of us in the Kala family.
We have received so many wonderful messages this year from many of you detailing just how much your ukulele meant to you in 2020. We feel truly humbled by the love from the greater Kala community and more driven than ever to continue designing instruments that bring you a great deal of joy in 2021 and beyond.
Here are some of our favorite Kala highlights and updates from 2020:
Ukulele Communities Build & Persevere
With many of our stages, clubs, and cafes worldwide on pause, we watched ukulele players worldwide foster digital community and togetherness like never before. 2020 saw so many new learners and additions to the ukulele community, accepted with open arms on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
Canada-based Ron Telpner’s #ukesnotnukes hashtag launched a viral international ukulele cover challenge of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” Players of all age, skill level, and nationality spent the first week of October sharing their own unique version and supporting the submissions of others. It made us so proud of the joy and resilience of our community.
New Kala Artists
We connected with so many great musicians in 2020 that we are now proud to call official Kala Artists! To name a few:
- Vampire Weekend’s own Chris Baio, coming off the band’s first tour with a U•BASS®
- Incredible musicians and collaborators in Reggae, including Kaleo Wassman of Pepper, KBong of Stick Figure, Adam Taylor of Iration, rising star Vana Liya, and Oahu-based producer Leslie Ludiazo.
- The SF Bay Area-based powerhouse Sunny and The Black Pack and L.A.-based Americana trio The Dales
- Ariana Savalas of Postmodern Jukebox, now releasing her debut LP
- Italy’s absurdly talented singer/songwriter duo Daudia
- An eclectic range of bassists with a mastery of the U•BASS®, including Zach William’s Brandon Robold, Anthony Hamilton’s Lamont McCain, Williamson Branch’s Kadence Williamson, and The Astronots’ Allee Futterer
- Kevin Presbrey of All For Uke: one of the absolute best educators on the ukulele!
New Fishman U•BASS® Active EQ
Always improving and adding to the world of U•BASS®, we worked with Fishman Electronics to develop a new and improved Active U•BASS® EQ system for several U•BASS® series, including our brand new Flame Maple and Mid-Century Modern series.
If you’re interested about Kala’s collaboration and history with Fishman Electronics, check out this interview with Fishman and Kala’s product department from December.
Kala’s 15th Anniversary!
2020 was our 15th Anniversary as a company here at Kala! A bunch of our Kala Artists, Ambassadors, and friends helped us to celebrate with this little video from this Summer.
In addition, we recognized this milestone on our own instruments by introducing 3 new soundhole labels for our ukuleles that celebrate our three office and warehouse locations -- California, Virginia, and Hawaii -- with an important landmark to their region. See if you can spot them all in the coming year!
Surf Community Gathers Onlines for Surf Expo Online
As in-person tradeshows paused in 2020, each community found a way to make their event continue through an online solution to connect brands with local stores and retailers. Held in September, Surf Expo Online was a great example, giving Kala a platform to show off the sweet new designs from our Surf Series.
For fans of Pepper, Kaleo Wassman joined us live during the event to answer some community questions and chat ukulele and wellness.
If you have seen these shiny & sparkly ukuleles pop up from friends in your Instagram feed-- you’re not alone! Kala debuted our Sparkle Series in 2020 and has been overwhelmed with the anticipation and positive reception.
Perhaps more than any other in the past, we have seen so many players tag us in photos with their new Sparkle Ukuleles. Everyone seems to feel very passionate about their favorite of the 4 colors as well...
While they were a lot of fun throughout the year, this series really started to shine alongside Holiday decor this Winter. We loved seeing your photos and can’t wait to see more!
The First Kala Ambassadors
Brand new to 2020, we have created a special title and distinction for members of the Kala global community that represent the ukulele and U•BASS® beyond the stage: Kala Ambassador. Be they educators, community organizers, or authors, these individuals use their Kala Ukulele to deliver a message of creativity, positivity, and inclusivity to their own online or local community.
Help us to welcome the very first Kala Ambassadors:
- Boris Mogilveski - an educator and ukuleleist extraordinaire from The Netherlands
- Rachel Hardy - a composer, producer and TV/Film aficionado from Alberta
- Noemie Tahiti - a young songwriter and The Voice-alum with a passion for peace from Tahiti.
- Ginalina - an award-winning Taiwanese-Canadian author and family musician from Vancouver
- Adam Pergande - an English teacher and songwriter with a love for all things steampunk, living in Castellon, Spain
- Gusswhat? - a multi-faceted visual artist and songwriter with the Fretless U•BASS® from Lisbon, Portugal
- annie the clumsy - a content creator from Saitama, Japan who produces her own quirky and musical web show: the annie the clumsy show.
- Savannah Rae Robinson - a photographer, teacher, and nature enthusiast from the home of Dollywood: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
- David Liu - a computer programmer, ukulele enthusiast, and founder of Uke Society in Seattle
- Dr. Dennis Fisher - the king of bluegrass ukulele with his own self-produced lessons from Roseville, California
Where did your Kala Ukulele or U•BASS® show up in this past year? Keep us in the loop about your ukulele progress and adventures this year by tagging @kalabrandmusic on Instagram, Facebook and Tik Tok.