The Steel Guitar Forum Store 

Post new topic Letritia Kandle - Steel Guitar Pioneer
Reply to topic
Author Topic:  Letritia Kandle - Steel Guitar Pioneer
T. C. Furlong

Lake County, Illinois, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jun 2010 5:15 pm    
Reply with quote

Letritia Kandle, one of the first major pioneers of the steel guitar passed away in Barrington, Illinois on Wednesday June 9th, 2010 at the age of 94.

Thanks to the efforts of forum brother Paul Warnik, Miss Letritia was brought to our attention after his exhaustive search for her. 25 years prior to loacting her, Paul saw Letritia Kandle's picture in a Tom Wheeler's American Guitars book posing with her invention The Grand Letar - a four neck console steel guitar that had a built in two speaker amplifier and an elaborate light show that illuminated the etched glass housing and the fretboards. She debuted this groundbreaking instrument at a national music trade show in New York City in 1937. Her musical genius was chronicled in the Who's Who of Music in the 1940's and she was the leader and conductor of the Chicago Plectrophonic Orchestra in the early 1940's. She was a steel guitar teacher who ran a large downtown music studio for many years. She was an accomplished musician and steel guitar player and did many orchestrations for nationally renowned bandleader Paul Whiteman. She was a founder and member of The Kohala Girls playing a National Style 4.

Thanks to forum brother Deke Dickerson for writing and spearheading the excellent three page feature article on Letritia Kandle and the Amazing Grand Letar in this month's Vintage Guitar Magazine. I was fortunate to be able to deliver black and white press proofs of the article to Miss Letritia when she was in Intensive Care last Friday and presented her with my U.S. Mail copy of Vintage Guitar with her article in full color last Sunday evening in her hospital room. She was thrilled with the article and was extremely grateful to be able to see it. When she saw it she had an ear-to-ear grin. Miss Letritia passed away just three days later. I must add one comment. At age 94, she was so sharp that one couldn't help but wonder how brilliant she must have been at age 15 when she took up the steel guitar and began a journey that effected so many of us in the steel guitar community.

Paul Warnik and I attended Miss Letritia's memorial service this afternoon and it was apparent that she left her mark on so many people in all aspects of her life. She gave up music in the 1950's when she became a wife, mother, politician and business woman in real estate. After the service, Paul and I both reflected that we were very lucky to get to know and spend so much time with Letritia - a beautiful person and a real pioneer of the steel guitar.

Please pick up a copy of Vintage Guitar Magazine to learn more about this amazing woman.

Letritia Kandle with bandleader Paul Whiteman.

Letritia Kandle with the Kohala Girls

Respectfully posted June 12, 2010
TC Furlong
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Bob Vantine


Freeville, New York, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jun 2010 4:19 am    
Reply with quote


Thanks for sharing post & pictures .

Got my copy in the mail friday amd am going to open right now .

****Bob V****
"TEAK" ZUM STAGE-ONE Steel / C6th Lapsteel
Peavey NV112 , CLASSIC and EFX112 amps
Peavey Guitars
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Mark Durante

St. Pete Beach FL
Post  Posted 13 Jun 2010 7:04 am    
Reply with quote

Thanks to Paul, Deke and T.C. for letting her know she was not forgotten and appreciated by many.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

bruce fischer

florissant, mo. 63031 USA
Post  Posted 13 Jun 2010 12:10 pm    
Reply with quote

so sad. may she rest in peace. bruce & lynn
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Mike Neer

Post  Posted 13 Jun 2010 7:00 pm    
Reply with quote

I'm sorry to hear of her passing, but how wonderful that TC, Paul and Deke honored her in the way they did. I'm sure she appreciated the recognition. I remember Paul's post about the Grand Letar. Pretty amazing story and it's one that we all should know more about. RIP Letritia.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Bill Quinn


Post  Posted 17 Jun 2010 3:21 am    
Reply with quote

Thanks TC Deke and Paul. It must have been wonderful to present her with her own story during her last days.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Drew Howard

Post  Posted 19 Jun 2010 12:52 pm    
Reply with quote

Wow TC! I remember when Paul Warnik broke the story of the Letar on SGF. You got her some kudos late in life. Good on ya!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Charles Lay


Texas, USA
Post  Posted 22 Jun 2010 11:23 am     Letritia-Mom
Reply with quote

I want to thank you so much for this moving tribute for my Mom-Letritia Lay (Kandle.) Thanks so much to Paul, TC and Deke for honoring my Mom with everything-including the great article in the magazine.

I remember the Grand Letar being in a crate in the basement for so many years-and I always wondered what was in it. My Mom explined it to me-but I could not really grasp what it was until I saw it refurbished. I can tell you how excited my Mom was by this-and how much she enjoyed talking to you about her past.

Mom was a remarkable musician; businesswoman; artist wife-and she was the best Mom. I truly miss talking to her every day, but I know that she is with my Dad again.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Billy Tonnesen


R.I.P., Buena Park, California
Post  Posted 22 Jun 2010 1:55 pm    
Reply with quote

Are there any recordings of your Mom's playing ? I'm sure we all would like to hear her.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

C Dixon


Duluth, GA USA
Post  Posted 22 Jun 2010 2:00 pm    
Reply with quote

I must add one comment. At age 94, she was so sharp that one couldn't help but wonder how brilliant she must have been at age 15 when she took up the steel guitar and began a journey that effected so many of us in the steel guitar community.

Bill Ferguson just sent me this link via email. Tommy Dodd also called me about it when it happened. My thanks to both of those friends for their kindness in alerting me.

I am very saddened by the loss of my "second mom" when I studied "Hawaiian Guitar" from her, at her studio in downtown Chicago, in the late 40's.

She helped me thru a very difficult time in my teenage life. I loved her dearly. And yes she was extrememly brilliant, especially when it came to music. A finished musician in her own right. Add to this her amazing teaching skills, and one has a combination that is hard to beat.

There are few thrills in my life that could equal that moment in August of 2008, when we hugged after not knowing where each other was for 60 yrs!

My eternal thanks to Paul Warnick for his finding her and calling me to tell me such wonderful news.

Sadly, my wife fell very ill while at Letritia's and Walter's (her husband) home, and Hazel passed away 4 days later. As all who ever knew her did, Letritia and Walter fell in love with her.

In fact, while Letritia and I were reminiscing about "ole times", Walter kept my wife entertained for hours. She later remarked at how brilliant he was, to be in his "90's".

I showed Letritia (on my pedal steel) how her "Grand Letar" had evolved and she got excited when I showed her the underside of my guitar. She had to see what was going on. Thrilled me to death. But that was typical Letritia. She was a detailed person to the nth degree. And apparently age had not changed it one iota.

As I mentioned in Paul's post (about her 2 yrs ago), "Letritia received one of the first 'Harlan Bros' Mult-Kords that they built" in 1947. She was thrilled with it, but she shotly got married and as Paul said, raising kids, and business, she had lost all contact concerning the PSG.

So she was excited to see how it had progressed. Of course I was pleased to answer all of her questions. She was particularly interested in how it had changed from a "chording" instrument (Alvino style), to a "moving tone" instrument. And she could not believe the sound of that. But then who wouldn't? (Including Floyd Cramer!) Very Happy

May Jesus bless Walter, Letritia and my precious wife. And may he rest their dear souls always, until such time as there will never be another death.

"Ve grow to soont oldt; und too late schmart!"


A broken heart + † = a new heart.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Marc Mercer


Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 1 Sep 2010 8:02 am    
Reply with quote

I just stumbled across this in The Denver Post in a gallery titled "Off-beat Inventions" -

The accompanying blurb reads "A look at some inventions of yesteryear that were a bit bizarre or just slightly ahead of their time."

I think the latter applies nicely.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

David L. Donald

Koh Samui Island, Thailand
Post  Posted 16 Oct 2010 8:06 am    
Reply with quote

It was a distracted spring for me, and I regret missing this till now.

I remember the 'rediscovery' of Miss Letritia, and Carl's rediscovery of her a few years back. It was a heart warming and historically interesting interlude.

I am not surprised that she has passed considering her advanced years, but of course saddened that yet another pioneer is gone.

But I'm also glad she got to see her contributions to the genre recognized and documented for further generations, and hearing what joy learning of this chapter has given so many.

I am sure that knowledge pleased her in her final days, filled her with great memories, and eased her passing to rejoin Paul Whitman in that bright shiny big band in the sky.
DLD, Chili farmer. Plus bananas and papaya too.

Real happiness has no strings attached.
But pedal steels have many!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Jump to:  
Please review our Forum Rules and Policies
Our Online Catalog
Strings, CDs, instruction, and accessories
BIAB Styles
Ray Price Shuffles for Band-in-a-Box
by Jim Baron
The Steel Guitar Forum
148 S. Cloverdale Blvd.
Cloverdale, CA 95425 USA

Click Here to Send a Donation

Email for technical support.