Four strings and a favourite chocolate bar: that’s all James Hill – “possibly the best ukulele player in the world” (Waikato Times) – and Anne Janelle – “a cellist of true beauty” (Ottawa Citizen) – had in common when they first met. It was more than enough. Today, they’re an award-winning, “utterly world-class” singer-songwriter-ukulele-cello duo (Paul Symes, The Blacksheep Inn).
It’s true: opposites attract. James grew up playing folk, jazz and blues on his ukulele while Anne was exclusively a classical cellist. But the pair’s differences quickly became their biggest asset. The uke is high, the cello is low; the uke plays short notes, the cello long bow strokes; the uke is all about strumming while the cello radiates melody. Like shadows and light in an old photograph, these contrasts are complementary. “We’re like a pair of dancers who can’t step on each other’s feet,” jokes James.2016 marks the return of the duo in full force. “We walked our separate musical paths for a while, but I think we both came to realize, each in our own way, that the duo is our strongest musical offering. There is passion, there is diversity, there are many levels with which an audience can engage with our music when it’s not one or the other but both of us.” reveals Anne.
Together, James and Anne craft a sound that is intricate, enchanting and engaging: “a crystal clear sound filled with warmth” (Bob Mersereau, CBC). In concert, James is “a dazzling performer with a genial, low-key sense of humour” (Edmonton Journal) and Anne brings her “gorgeous syrupy voice” (Acoustic Magazine) to songs that are “inventive, entertaining, beautifully written and brilliantly performed” (R2 Magazine).