Lyman Museum Presents Kīkā Kila: Story of Hawaiian Steel Guitar

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Book jacket photo courtesy of University of North Carolina Press.

Lyman Museum will offer to presentations of Kīkā Kila, the story of how the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music, on Monday, May 8, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Dr. John Troutman, a steel guitarist himself and curator of American Music at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, will tell the story of how this instrument influenced music worldwide using a range of rich historical sources. 

The presentation–and the recently published book of the same title–illuminate the instrument’s definitive history, beginning with its discovery by a young Hawaiian royalist named Joseph Kekuku. Through the 20th century, Hawaiian musicians travelled extensively in the U.S. and abroad, shaping new sounds in country and blues music while recasting the role of the guitar in modern life. By the 1970s, the steel guitar’s popularity overseas was eroding its cultural legitimacy in the eyes of musicians in Hawaiʻi, and it all but disappeared in its homeland.


Learn the full story during the May 8 presentation. Copies of Dr. Troutman’s corresponding book will be available in the Museum Shop with personalized inscriptions by the author. 

This event is free to Lyman Museum members and $3 for nonmembers. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for the evening program. Limited seating is available. There will be additional parking next door at Hilo Union School on Monday evening only.


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