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Kika KilaHow the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music$
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John W. Troutman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627922

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627922.001.0001

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The Disappearing of “Hawaiian” from American Music

The Disappearing of “Hawaiian” from American Music

(p.153) 6 The Disappearing of “Hawaiian” from American Music
Kika Kila

John W. Troutman

University of North Carolina Press

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Hawaiian steel guitar continued its ascendant popularity in the United States, with hundreds of thousands of students enrolling in Hawaiian guitar schools such as the Honolulu Conservatory of Music, a national franchise that sold music and guitars licensed through the Oahu Publishing Company. Many Americans became increasingly devoted to Hawaiian music through radio programs by Eddie Alkire and others that broadcast throughout the country. Meanwhile, non-Hawaiian musicians began applying the instrument and its sounds to their own vernacular music. In the South, both the blues and the “hillbilly” or country music genres became sonically defined through adaptations of the Hawaiian guitar into new steel and “slide” guitar manifestations by musicians such as Robert Johnson, Sylvester Weaver, Cliff Carlisle, Beecher Oswald, Vernon Dalhart, Jimmie Tarlton, Jimmie Rodgers, Tampa Red, Jerry Byrd, Leon McAuliffe, Charley Patton, and Huddie Ledbetter. Chroniclers of these music traditions and developers of the pedal steel guitar, however, soon began to erase the influence of Hawaiians, thus masking the multicultural origins of the blues and country music genres, and, more broadly, the Hawaiian origins of the steel guitar.

Keywords:   Eddie Alkire, Oahu Publishing Company, Sylvester Weaver, Blues, Country Music, Jimmie Rodgers, Huddie Ledbetter, Jerry Byrd, Slide Guitar, Pedal Steel

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