The Navajo-Hopi Observer talked to Kai at Winslow's La Posada Hotel where he plays classical guitar every evening.
Khent, how did you get interested in guitar and classical guitar, specifically?
At age nine my bedroom wall adjoined the apartment next door where my family lived in Burbank, Calif. Every night from 9:30-10:30 our elderly guitarist neighbor, would play classical guitar compositions. I didn't know what the music was, but I fell asleep listening to it every night. That music became part of me and I later came to know that it was composed by Francisco Tarrega in the late 1800's. Tarrega is one of the world's most influential guitarists and is considered to be the father of Classical Guitar. The neighbor died and the music stopped. So I began to whistle and hum the music I remembered.
When did you start playing the guitar?
I became interested in the guitar over time and as a 12 ½ year old, my family was shopping in a Ralph's Grocery store where I heard the music I fell asleep to as a 9 year old, played over the speaker system. I freaked out and demanded to know what the music was. After pestering the cashier, I was informed that it was compositions by Francisco Tarrega. We went to a record shop after grocery shopping, where I bought a cassette tape of Tarrega's music, played it over and over and played along on my "air guitar." On Halloween night I was hit by a car. The accident gave me three fractures and a skull laceration, hospitalizing me for five months. Upon coming home from the hospital, I was greeted by a new guitar, my Tarrega cassette and player and a book about recording and playing classical guitar. During my recovery I taught myself the elements of playing guitar.
What is your schedule here at La Posada?
I play here every evening from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. I'm able to take some breaks during the evening and also write some of my own compositions. I've been here at the hotel for five years now.
What are some of your recordings?
Two CDs I have out and are titled, "Night Odyssey" and "Winter Dream."
What's your Winslow connection?
I was born here, moved back here 6 years ago and my mother still lives here. I have five siblings scattered around the U.S. and many relatives on Navajo lands.