Zee Avi broadcasts her way to fame via YouTube 

How much power does YouTube wield?

Ask Borneo-born, Kuala-Lumpur-raised ukulele strummer Zee Avi, who — after innocently posting home-taped videos on it, just for friends alone to see — was discovered by The Raconteurs’ Patrick Keeler, who promptly informed his manager about her, who then referred Avi to Emmet Malloy, who instantly inked her to Brushfire Records, the label he’d formed with Jack Johnson. And all this mighty music-biz muscle was set in motion by her unexpected YouTube popularity, which manifested in a wonderfully whimsical self-titled debut, and now a sophomore followup, hitting shelves on Aug. 23.

The album is called “Ghostbird” — the literal Malay translation of “owl” — and it was launched in Avi’s new Brooklyn apartment but completed at Brushfire’s SoCal Solar Powered Plastic Plant Studios, with Beastie Boys/Bebel Gilberto producer Mario Caldato Jr. overseeing it.

Its first single, “The Book Of Morris Johnson,” was inspired by the artist’s recent eye-opening trip to the Florida Everglades. And you can catch video previews of it, plus “Swell Window” and “31 Days In June,” at www.zeeavi.com.

Avi even full circle recently, when she returned to Borneo to pick up an International Youth Icon Award. She should be back on YouTube any minute now.

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Tom Lanham

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