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McNeese Spring SAGE Series Concludes

McNeese Spring SAGE Series Concludes

(April 21, 2016) The McNeese State University SAGE series will conclude its spring program with a lecture by Dr. John Troutman on his book titled, “Kika Kila: How the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Changed the Sound of Modern Music,” at 3 p.m. Monday, April 25, in the McNeese SEED Center. Book cover
Since its discovery in the 1890s by young Hawaiian royalist Joseph Kekuku, the distinct tones of the Hawaiian steel guitar – the kika kila – have come to define the island sound. With the turn of the century, Hawaiian musicians traveled the world, creating a unique sound by incorporating the guitar into a variety of musical genres.

By the 1970s, however, the adoption of the instrument overseas challenged its cultural legitimacy in the eyes of a new generation of Hawaiian musicians, causing the kika kila to nearly disappear in its homeland, according to Troutman, an associate professor of history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Using musical and historical sources, Troutman will offer a definitive history of the kika kila and how it transformed not only American music but also the sounds of modern music worldwide.

When not writing about music, he is often playing it - earlier in his life he toured the United States and Europe as a lead and pedal steel guitarist and today he continues to play regularly in Louisiana and beyond. He contributed steel guitar to the album, “Grand Isle,” by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, which was nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award for “Best Regional Roots Music Album.” He has also performed on stage with numerous musicians, including CC Adcock, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, Dr. John, Willie Nelson’s Band, David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), Ani DiFranco and Florence Welch (Florence and the Machine).

In 2015, he was tapped to serve as the lead historical consultant for the Hawaiian steel guitar episode of the forthcoming PBS/BBC documentary film, “American Epic.”

To register, call 337-475-5616 or visit

Persons needing accommodations as provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act should contact the ADA Coordinator at 337-475-5428, voice; 337-475-5960, fax; 337-562-4227, TDD/TTY, hearing impaired; or by email at