Girls find music from Buffett and his ukuleles

Tue May 5, 2009 10:42pm EDT
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By Jonathan Stempel

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - When he's not attending to the businesses that helped him amass a $40 billion fortune, Warren Buffett maintains a decades-long love for the ukulele, and he wants to keep the music playing.

To help this along, the world's second-richest person has given ukuleles and a lesson on the instrument to girls at the North Omaha branch of Girls Inc.

Raelynn McCreary is one of the girls. The 10-year-old calls what Buffett did "just plain kindness. If you're a really busy person and you take time out of your schedule to go teach someone else how to do something, then that is what everyone should do."

Girls Inc's goal is to help girls become "strong, smart and bold," bolstering their confidence and self-sufficiency. The group works with girls ages 5 to 18, mainly from lower-income families. Most live with one parent or in foster care.

Buffett's daughter Susie is on the group's national board. Her dad handed out the instruments a little over a month ago, and several girls are now taking weekly lessons.

"He's a rich man, and he doesn't show it," says Natalia Partridge, also 10. "I thought he was going to be snobby and kind of mean, but he turned out to be really nice."

The gift came about in an unusual way. Two artists held a December concert in Brooklyn, New York, performing songs by The Beatles on the ukulele.

They took donations, billing the event, tongue-in-cheek, as a benefit for Buffett.   Continued...

<p>Billionaire financier and Berkshire Hathaway Chief Executive Warren Buffett eats ice cream as he walks during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska in this May 2, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files</p>