Over the past decade, ukuleles have enjoyed a renaissance, of sorts. It’s not unusual to find them in a variety of live and recordings experiences anymore. And folks that have experience with other stringed instruments are usually quick to pick up some skills on ukes.
Adria Nicole, however, enjoys teaching the instrument to young women with no such experience, even those who’ve never picked up, or seen, a ukulele.
Her own road to picking one up was unorthodox, as “in 2011, my father actually passed. I took part of the insurance money to buy a uke. I know he would’ve totally supported me in that.”
She half-jokes that almost immediately upon buying one, “I got this vision of an all-girl uke army. Within the first year, I’d bought ukes and cases and tuners. And within two years we had a camp.
She’ll have that camp again this year, for a small group of students, many of them from the Cherokee neighborhood.
“Some are kids of people I already know, family and friends,” she says of Uke Go Girl. “I always put up a ton of flyers and get on the KDHX community calendar. I use as many free resources as possible, so people contact me through flyers, our website, Facebook.
“It’s a completely free program,” she notes. “We provide everything they need. The instruments are theirs at the end of the program. It gets better every year, more-and-more of what I want it to be. Last year, I brought in some other ladies to do some classes, within the framework of the all-day workshops. I’ll do more of the music theory – chords and strings and all that fun stuff – but I’ll try to break it up. We had a yoga teacher come in and do work on mindfulness; Devon from Letter to Memphis came in to talk to the girls about her experiences with ukulele.
“Normally, I like having around six-seven girls,” she adds. “I can’t see it working with any more than 10 at a time. Everybody gets the attention they need. I’m strict, I’m about the business, but I want them to feel relaxed and to have a good time. I want them to respect (the camp) and have a good time. There’s always a temptation to get bigger-and-bigger, to do more, but I would rather have a small amount of students and do quality over quantity.”
Working the New Colony portion of Nebua, Nicole is a neighborhood resident who is “an artist in general. I do music, as a singer-songwriter, playing the ukulele. I do visual art, through illustrations with paints and also digital illustration and photography.”
She says of Nebula that “I love the space. I love the feeling here. There’re a lot of cool things being done and the energy is good. You definitely get your money’s worth here; the amenities help a lot. Having access to the building at any time is ideal. Before I had a space here, I’d worked at CAMP; I cannot work at home. I was going to coffee shops or restaurants, buying something I didn’t really want, so as not to just take up space. I’m a people-watcher, too, so I’d be distracted. Having an office space outside of my house has been wonderful. I get a lot more done.
“I live up the street,” she adds. “I’m the vegan chef at Melt, so most days I’m trucking up-and-down the block. It couldn’t be more convenient.”