2017 American Music Month Exhibit
Letritia Kandle (1915-2010), Hawaiian steel-guitarist, music teacher, creator of the first console Hawaiian guitar, and director of Chicago’s Plectrophonic Orchestra, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois as the only daughter of Charles and Alma Kandle. Like many children growing up in urban Chicago at the beginning of the twentieth century, her earliest music lessons were on the piano, but she eventually switched to Hawaiian guitar because of its growing popularity in America during the 1920s. During the late 1930s she imagined the creation of an electronic twenty-six string guitar that would use lights to provide a colorful visual display as the instrument was being played. She also wanted to be able to stand while playing it and have it produce rich mellow tones similar to the Deagan vibraharp that had been developed in Chicago in 1927. Kandle premiered her innovative Hawaiian guitar while performing with the Paul Whiteman Band at Chicago's Drake Hotel in 1937, and the performances were broadcast by WGN Radio throughout the Midwest. This exhibit of photographs, correspondence, music, and news clippings document the creation of Kandle’s Grand Letar, her career as a leading music performer and teacher, and her influence on modern steel guitar performance practice.
For more information, please visit https://archives.library.illinois.edu/sousa/american-music-month/.