Ukefest Artists and Workshop Host Bios

Workshop Host Bios:

Anne Ku

Born in Brunei and raised in Taiwan and Okinawa, Anne Ku (@ukekudos) embraced music at a young age, traversing various instruments until she discovered the ukulele on Maui. After earning her music degree in composition and teaching diploma in piano (on sightreading) from Utrecht Conservatory in the Netherlands, she performed widely as a chamber musician in duos with classical guitarFrench horn, and cello. She taught music (class piano, music theory, music history, world music, and instrumental ensemble) at the University of Hawaii Maui College before moving to Boston where she started a ukulele club. Having written her MA in Music thesis on ukulele song sheets and participative music making, Anne believes the ukulele is the fastest way to making music and staying connected.

Bernadette Plazola

Bernadette (@plazi) is a ukulele teacher known for her wonderful ability to teach those starting at any level. Uku Global teamed up with Bernadette to record the 10-step videos associated with our Happy Helpful Guide to the Ukulele. Bernadette has her bachelor’s degree in music, teaching certificates, and a masters in education. Check out Bernadette Teaches Music on her YouTube channel here: and subscribe to her Instagram channel (@plazi) for regular updates!

Monica Dear

Monica Dear is a music teacher in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A Level III James Hill Ukulele Initiative Certificate holder, she has also worked extensively with choirs, and as an arts administrator. 30+ years in the classroom have afforded her ample opportunity to learn, try, fail, improve, and succeed at teaching. She feels a responsibility to mentor and engage with other music educators and happily shares strategies, ideas, experiences, and opinions.

Monica leads and instructs a community ukulele group. She is a sought-after presenter for Professional Development days, conferences, workshops, and her popular 8-hour course for teachers - so they can be “armed, dangerous and ready to teach ukulele!”

Steph Payne

Steph Payne leads many ukulele ensembles and choirs in Melbourne, Australia. A passionate teacher and arranger, she is the director of the Daisy Chains ukulele ensemble, the Wyndham Classical Ukulele Ensemble, the Wyndukes Contemporary Ukestra and teaches UkeTech music theory classes. During this unusual Covid-19 time, Steph is teaching many online classes and has been reconnecting with the beautiful worldwide ukulele community as we all redesign our teaching practices - because ukulele is the only virus worth catching.

A graduate of the James Hill Ukulele Initiative and active member and trainer of the Australian Ukulele Teachers And Leaders Association, Steph has taken advantage of traveling to study ukulele with many world leading players.
As a performer, Steph is one third of Folk Trio, Paisley & Plaid and has been singing and leading choirs for over twenty years.


Dan MacEoin

Dan has been a student of music, theatre and circus for over three decades. He has been teaching these skills to primary school students for over two of those decades. He is currently writing this and feeling sort of old.

The ukulele is a fantastic instrument with which to teach music theory. The students don't even realize they are doing work. They are too busy having fun and achieving a feeling of success. It is one of the few instruments that an absolute beginner can pick up and be playing a song off the radio (maybe not perfectly, but at least recognizably) after just ten minutes of practice. That instant success is what keeps people interested in learning more.

He is currently the music teacher at Emerald Primary School, the Chairperson of the Hills Ukulele Festival Committee and the President of AUTLA (Australian Ukulele Teachers & Leaders Association).

Aj Pappas

Aj Pappa’s (@pappas_aj) also known as “The Rockin’ Realtor” is a bass ukulele player raised on the coast of New England. Aj’s bass ukulele style is original and full of heart. He offers genuine creativity to this up-and-coming instrument! Aj’s early career brought him around the world playing bass guitar. In more recent years, when he’s not playing bass ukulele, Aj is a realtor selling homes in the New Hampshire and Massachusetts regions. Check out Aj’s playing on his Instagram @pappas_aj

Mike Cobb

Mike is a composer and performer born in Bergamo, Italy. Mike picked up the guitar while attending college at the University of Oregon, and shortly thereafter began playing in a band called Lincoln Brigade. A man of many talents, this singer/songwriter is also a photographer, writer, does sound engineering, podcasting, and is bilingual in English and Spanish. Mike cares deeply about social issues. He has organized concerts and donated the profits to charities such as Greenpeace, the ACLU, All Hands Volunteers. You’ll hear Mike playing with the Haystack Mountain Boys this weekend at the Uku Global Ukefest! Check out all the creativity Mike has to offer on his website:


Danno Sullivan

Danno is a ukulele lover, player, and teacher. He is experienced in teaching both online and in person. Danno has a soft spot in his heart for music from the 1920’s, although it’s possible you’ll also hear him playing some Black Sabbath. He is the author of the website “Play it Daily Ukulele with the mission “To Amuse and Inform”. Check out Danno’s website and his great tutorials here:

David Liu

David founded Uke Society to make playing and sharing ukulele music more accessible within the local community, and doing so with an interesting twist: repurposing otherwise unused retail and public spaces for alternative use. Over the years, Uke Society has grown to maintain a high-quality crowd-sourced sheet music library and a community-event-submission platform, to working with institutional partners in bringing this humble little instrument into people's lives in the Seattle community, and around the world. 

Connor Berry

Connor (@ukulele_fingerstyle) is a skilled ukulele player and teacher known for his fingerstyle abilities. On his YouTube channel, Connor takes on popular songs and shares TABs to master playing the chords and melodies of these songs. If you are looking for a new style of playing that allows for more individual note play and finger picking the strings, head over to Connor’s YouTube channel:

Abby Lyons

Abby Lyons (@helloabbylyons) is a songwriter and ukulele player out of Los Angeles, California. Abby graduate with a master’s degree in composition from Cal Arts. Her refined songwriting skills bring out the natural beauty of the ukulele. The combination of Abby’s melodies with the bright, soft sounds of the ukulele will transport any listener into a state of well-being. Check out Abby’s YouTube channel here and listen to her original songs!


Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Maluhia currently lives on the island of Kauaʻi. He is a professional freelance musician who has performed in many styles including Jazz, Classical, Folk and Psychedelic Rock over the last decade with dozens of bands from around the greater Seattle area. Recently releasing a pair of albums of music composed on the ukulele featuring songs about family and the environment Maluhia hopes to make music for our planet and its people.

Uku Global Ukefest: Performances

The Uku Global Ukefest is coming up on July 17th and 18th! Whether you have the All Access Pass or the Performance Pass, you will be able to see these wonderful, virtual performances. Before you head to the festival, check out all these artists and the music they have to offer! Below are the performers and where you can find their music via social media, YouTube, or their websites.

         Happy Hour Performances on 7/17:

Uku is grateful for all the artists above supporting our mission to get ukuleles in the hands of more children. All profits from the Ukefest will be donated to Cand’aid, who will be purchasing instruments for children in need. Head over to Eventbrite to get your ticket today!