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Exploring The History Of The Steel Guitar

The Royal Hawaiian Quintet Performing on the U.S. Mainland
University of Hawaii at Manoa Library, via flickr, creative commons


The sound of American Country music owes much of it's success to an unlikely source: the 19th century Hawaiian music scene. Hawaiian music at that time was dominated by the steel guitar. During the instrument's century-long international migration, it influenced the direction of many genres.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Southern Folklife Collection is sponsoring a Steel Guitar Concert and Symposium this Saturday at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro. Speakers Tim Millerand Allyn Love join host Frank Stasio on the program to preview the event and play some live steel guitar. Tim Miller is a PhD student in Musicology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Allyn Love is a pedal steel guitarist, and the director of operations at the North Carolina Symphony.

The single, "Slowly" by Webb Pierce features a new style of playing by Bud Isaacs, using a Bigsby pedal steel to audibly change pitches of strings while playing.

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Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.