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By Carissa Sitki
At only nine-years-old, Ava Lambert is becoming a local ukulele sensation, playing at church and even performing her first concert at Liz Fryman Chapman’s art show several weeks ago. Ava plays the little Hawaiian string instrument while singing along, a skill that often takes time to acquire.
Ava first picked up the ukulele in February of this year, when she was only eight. She checked out a plastic one that was at the Jerseyville Public Library and was already learning her first tune, “You are My Sunshine,” that very same day. “I just kept playing ‘You are My Sunshine’ over and over and over,” said Ava. “It took a little bit to get to sing and play at the same time, but I just had to practice.”
Ava’s parents recognized that she had an immediate connection to the instrument and decided she needed her own. “She picked it up so fast, she was playing and singing in the first few days.” said Michelle. “We checked out the ukulele four more times and then we said, ‘okay, we’ve got to get her one.”
Ava has largely taught herself to play the instrument by watching tutorial videos on YouTube and playing the instrument alongside friends from church, including Kathryn Gibson of The Gibson Girls music group. “There’s a bunch of us who play the ukulele at church now. I’ve performed solo too,” said Ava.
Gibson has learned aside Ava and helped her a lot on her ukulele journey, as well. “We ended up buying [Gibson] a ukulele, she’s helped [Ava] so much,” said Michelle.
The ukulele players perform at church a lot, and learn together as they practice every Sunday, according to Ava. “We’re learning how to harmonize and I can play some songs by ear,” she said. “It’s really a a lot of fun.”
Musical talent is not something that Ava inherited, according to Michelle who expresses her own creativity through painting. “I’m not musical at all,” she said, “it’s not really something that runs in the family, but Ava’s always been interested in music.”
Since learning the ukulele, Ava has developed a deep interest in Hawaii. She had a Hawaiian themed birthday party over the summer and enjoys watching the show, Lilo and Stitch. “The ukulele has made me love Hawaii so much,” she said.
Currently, Ava’s favorite songs to play are “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord),” by Matt Redman and “Lord, I need you,” by Matt Maher. “It’s a gift God blessed her with,” said Michelle. “I hope she continues to use it.”
Ava has no intention of putting down the instrument anytime soon and has some big plans for her future. “I’d like to travel around the world and play and sing,” she said.
Visit rivercountynews.com to view a video of Ava performing her solo rendition of “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord),” at her church.