Most street performers seek fame through music, but sophomore BIT student Joshua Kim only wants to make people smile.
Kim, who can often be found playing his ukulele around town and on campus between classes, picked up the instrument as a young child in Hawaii. Kim taught himself how to play strictly by ear, and sticking with it has made his dreams come true, he said.
“There’s something about the ukulele that really drew me in. It’s such a happy instrument,” Kim said. “It was the one instrument that made me feel as though I was myself.”
Kim said that he almost always takes his ukulele, which he named “Aeia,” everywhere he goes.
“I cuddle with my ukulele at night when I’m lonely. It follows me everywhere. She’s like my girlfriend,” Kim said. “All the time, she’s right by my side.”
Kim often plays at large talent shows including Showtime at Tech in Squires Haymarket Theater and Open Mic Night at Deet’s Place.
“At any opportunity I play, it just makes me happy,” Kim said.
Kim has also translated his passion for the ukulele into an opportunity to earn side money as a street performer. Kim plays every Friday or Saturday outside Moe’s Southwest Grill from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and gives impromptu performances around the Virginia Tech campus, especially outside Squires Student Center.
Kim’s focus is not on making money however, said his friend and occasional collaborator Jessica Chen, a freshman flute performance and biochemistry major.
“Whenever people walk by without any money to give he’s like, ‘No, it’s just for the smiles,’” Chen said.
Chen, who plays the flute, can sometimes be spotted with Kim when he plays Friday nights outside Moe’s Southwest Grill and Open Mic Nights at Deet’s Place. The duo met in Kendo Club where Kim asked Chen to perform on the street with him.
Kim and Chen perform songs like “Get Lucky,” “My Heart Will Go On” and “Sunday Morning.”
Although Kim said that he plans to continue playing the ukulele, he doesn’t see it becoming a career — at least not anytime soon.