Letritia Kandle Papers and Hawaiian Guitars, 1931-2010
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Brief Description:

Consists of photographs, newsclippings, correspondence, sheet music, concert programs, a scrapbook, newsletters, music trade journals, and Letritia Kandle's National Grand Letar, National Small Letar, Harlin Brothers Kalina Multi Kord steel guitar, and Almcrantz double-neck guitar, documenting her career as leading Chicago, Illinois Hawaiian guitar performer and music teacher between 1931 and 1955.

For more Hawaiian guitar materials, see RS 12/9/50 and RS 12/9/101.

Held at:
The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music
236 Harding Band Building
1103 South 6th Street
Champaign, IL 61820 6223
Phone: 217-244-93093
Fax: 217-244-8695
Email: schwrtzs [at] illinois.edu
Record Series Number: 12/9/150
Created by: Kandle, Letritia (November 7, 1915 - June 9, 2010)
Volume: 17.05 cubic feet
Acquired: 04/18/2016. Almcrantz guitar acquired June 10, 2016 from TC Furlong. Six Discs (Box 6 Items 2-6) and a CD of duplicate recordings acquired May 12, 2017 from William Lay. [Note: Disc 6, an untitled record produced by Milton J. Wolfe deaccessioned due to delamination]. Small Letar and table purchased from Paul Warnik on October 14, 2019.
Arrangement: Materials are arranged by file type.
Biographical Note for Kandle, Letritia (November 7, 1915 - June 9, 2010) :

Letritia Kandle (1915-2010), the only daughter of Charles and Alma Kandle, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.  Her earliest music lessons were on the piano, but in 1928 she switched to the Hawaiian guitar after watching the film, The Cisco Kid, and talking with her music teacher.  Her early steel guitars included a Koa Weissenborn and a National Style 2 resophonic guitar.  In 1933 Letritia attended the Chicago World's Fair and met Geroge Kealoha Gilman who mentored her in Hawaiian music and lore, and the following year she formed an all-girl music ensemble that played matching National Resophonic guitars that called themselves The Kohala Girls.  Several years later the ensemble switched to electric lap steel and double-neck steel guitars.

While waiting for an appointment during the 1930s Kandle came up with the idea of creating an electronic twenty-six string guitar that would use colored lights to change colors as the instrument was being played.  She envisioned a guitar that would enable her to stand while playing it, one that would have a full sound like an organ and produce tones like a vibraharp.  In 1937 Letritia's father helped construct her large console Hawaiian guitar that consisted of a top cast in aluminum with one eight-string and three six-string necks, sides made of wood that was covered with chrome-plated steel, and top and side panels made of glass.  National installed electronic pickups and a 20-watt amplifier that utilized two twelve-inch JB Lansing field-coil speakers.  Inside the glass panels a network of 120 colored lights that flashed and changed colors as it was played.

The instrument was premiered by Letritia, who was performing Hawaiian guitar with the Paul Whiteman Band, at Chicago's Drake Hotel in 1937.  The instrument was eventually named the Grand Letar by Whiteman based on the first two letters of Letritia's name and the last three letters of the guitar.  That same year Kandle demonstrated the Grand Letar at the 1937 National Music Trade Convention held in New York City.

In 1939 Letritia's father constructed a smaller and more portable electronic Hawaiian guitar that did not have internal amplificiation or lights, and she used it as a replacement for the Grand Letar.  When Kandle wasn't performing with the Kohala Girls or directing the forty-nine piece Chicago Plectrophonic Orchestra, she ran a music school in Chicago's Kimball Building and wrote numerous articles several different music trade journals.  In 1955 she married Walter Lay, a one-time bassist for the Chicago Plectrophonic Orchestra, and went to work for her father's company which manufactured earth-boring equipment.

Subject Index
Electronic Music
Hawaiian guitar
Instrumental music
Music - United States
Music teachers
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Acquisition Notes: Paul Warnik  Gift