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Saint Cloud: The Home Of Incredible Ukulele Talent
With a population of under 50,000, Saint Cloud, Florida is known for what most small cities are known for: Local shops, golf courses, nature parks and lakefront views. From the outside, Saint Cloud is just any other large town, but beneath its exterior lies one of Florida’s most talented ukulele communities.
Saint Cloud’s uke club, The Boggy Creek Swampers Ukulele Jam, are proof of the city’s love for the diminutive instrument. The group meets every second Friday of the month at the Recreation Center of the Floridian RV Park to strum, sing and get to know the area’s ukulele enthusiasts. Meetings are a no cost, no experience necessary affair where all players – regardless of their skill level – are encouraged to come and play.
All within an hour and a half’s drive is the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society in Tampa, the East Pasco/Hernando Ukulele Club in Dade City and the Winter Park Ukulele Meetup in Winter Park.
A one and a half hour drive from Saint Cloud, Florida’s largest ukulele club, the Tampa Bay Ukulele Society, holds regular events including workshops, performances, open mic and jam session. They also host the annual Tampa Bay Ukulele Getaway event held during the first weekend of November.
The East Pasco/Hernando Ukulele Club is an hour and forty minute drive away. The no-experience-necessary group hasn’t been active on social media lately, but past meetings were held during the first Saturday of every month at retirement home The Commons on Pretty Pond in Dade City.
The Winter Park Ukulele Meetup is the shortest distance away – only a 42-minute drive away. The group meets roughly every month to share their passion for the ukulele and specifically welcomes new members from out-of-town.
But you don’t have to venture out of Saint Cloud to find real ukulele talent. In addition to its local ukulele club, the central Florida city is also home to America’s Got Talent performer Mandy Harvey.
The deaf performer stole hearts in her 2017 appearance on the show as she strummed the ukulele and sang original songs, earning herself one of the biggest compliments a musician on the show can get: The golden buzzer from Simon Cowell. The music mogul called her performances stunning, while Mel B described her as a miracal worker and Heidi Klum said she was powerful. Howie Mandel told the Saint Cloud singer that because she has to feel the music in order to perform, she makes the audience feel it too.
Having earned herself fourth place on the competition series, Harvey now tours around the US performing and speaking at events. If Saint Cloud ukulele enthusiasts are lucky, she may even stop by her home town again – or start up her own ukulele club.
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