Country music’s Hawaiian roots

Aloha, friends. Did you know there’s a rich and longtime relationship between Country and Hawaiian music? Ever wondered how steel guitars gained such iconic stature in Country music?


Shot Jackson and Jewell were great fans of Hawaiian music.

We were vaguely aware of such roots when we recently visited Hawaii, but we looked more into it all after hearing and admiring local bands’ excellent work in Honolulu and elsewhere. We began to feel that we were in Nashville instead of palm-lined Waikiki. Whether in beach clubs or on the Norwegian cruise ship, we heard fabulous steel guitar work, nimble picking, smooth harmonizing and rich musicianship — all played and sang from the heart.

We were reminded that Jewell and her close friend, steel guitar legend Shot Jackson, loved and were right at home with Hawaiian music.

That’s why Jewell wrote “Beautiful Moon Over Hawaii” for Shot in 1951. Images of the contract and their signatures are below.

There’s good reason why the genres are so close. Check out Robert Silva’s article at for an excellent, quick look at the topic.

As we looked further into the history of County-BeautifulMoonOverHawaii - Copy (2)Hawaiian connection, we discovered the wonderful Honolulu-based Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association. Their website provides great historical perspective on the steel guitar’s origin and development.

And we found lively discussion at The Steel Guitar Forum on how the steel guitar

BeautifulMoonSignatures - Copy (2)

Shot and Jewell signed a contract for “Beautiful Moon Over Hawaii” in April 1951. Shot listed his address as simply “KWKH,” the powerful Shreveport, La., radio station that carried live broadcasts of the famed Louisiana Hayride, known as “the Cradle of the Stars.”

became such an iconic part of the Country sound.

What a joy it is to explore the love story between Country and Hawaiian music.

As Silva says in his article, “If you want to get to Nashville, you’ve got to go through Honolulu.”

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