By Joshua Belsky, CNN
(CNN) - If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a more peaceful place, says Jake Shimabukuro, a ukulele virtuoso who is the subject of the upcoming episode of CNN's "The Next List," which airs Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
Based on Shimabukuro's performances, it's hard not to think the world might be a happier place if everyone picked up the small, Hawaiian instrument that he's made famous through YouTube videos and concerts.
We discovered Shimabukuro by watching his 2006 career-launching YouTube video (and you thought Justin Bieber was the only one) of George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps. That video led us to his jaw-dropping TED video performing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Watch both and you’ll immediately sense that nobody has ever told Shimabukuro about the limitations of playing a four-stringed, two octave instrument that looks like a child's toy.
Shimabukuro has almost single-handedly made the ukulele cool by combining elements of jazz, rock and pop in his playing. He’s a reluctant ambassador of the instrument but his enthusiasm and love for it is undeniable. Even while preparing for the show, CNN production assistant Nina Raja was so inspired by Shimabukuro that she went out and purchased a “uke” for herself. Not only did she get a good deal, she learned her purchase put her into a huge club of uke players that's popping up everywhere due to increased sales of the instrument. Perhaps the popularity in sales is due to it’s affordability in a down economy - or maybe it’s the idea that the ukulele’s limitations have been both accepted for their beauty and seriously tested by Shimabukuro and others. Whatever the reason, we’re getting closer to finding out if Jake is right about his ukulele-equals-better-world theory.
Tune in Sunday at 2 p.m. ET to see The Next List's full profile of Jake Shimabukuro.