Slack-key guitar is a fingerstyle genre of guitar music that originated in Hawaii. Its name refers to its characteristic open tunings: the English term is a translation of the Hawaiian kī hōʻalu, which means “loosen the [tuning] key”.

In the oral-history account, the style originated from Mexican cowboys in the late 19th century. These paniolo (a Hawaiianization of españoles—”Spaniards”) or vaqueros provided guitars, taught the Hawaiians the rudiments of playing, and then left, allowing the Hawaiians to develop the style on their own.

Gary Haleamau is an accomplished Hawaiian musician blessed with mastery skills in kī hōʻalu (Hawaiian slack key) and leo ki’eki’e (high-pitched falsetto voice). Gary and wife Sheldeen Haleamau reside in Las Vegas, NV, known as the 9th Island of Hawai’i.

Video Credit: Jayson Barangan