Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

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Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

Background information
Birth name Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole
Born May 20, 1959
Origin Hawaii, USA
Died June 26, 1997 (aged 38)
Genre(s) Jazz, reggae, Hawaiian
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter
Instrument(s) Ukulele, vocals

Israel "Iz" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole (May 20, 1959 – June 26, 1997) (pronounced [kaˌmakaˌvivoˈʔole]) was a Hawaiʻi musician.

He became famous outside Hawaiʻi when his album Facing Future was released in 1993 with his medley of "Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World", which was subsequently featured in several films, television programs, and commercials.

Through his consummate ukulele playing and incorporation of other genres (such as jazz and reggae), Iz remains one of the major influences in Hawaiʻian music over the last 15 years.[1]


[edit] Early life

Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole was born at Kuakini Hospital in Honolulu to Henry Kaleialoha Naniwa Kamakawiwoʻole, Jr. and Evangeline Leinani Kamakawiwoʻole. He was raised in the community of Kaimuki, where his parents had met and married. He began playing music with his older brother Skippy at the age of 11, being exposed to the music of Hawaiʻian entertainers of the time such as Peter Moon, Palani Vaughn, and Don Ho, who frequented the establishment where Iz's parents worked.

In his early teens, his family moved to Makaha, Hawaii. There, he met Louis "Moon" Kauakahi, Sam Gray, and Jerome Koko. Together with his brother Skippy they formed the Makaha Sons of Niʻihau. From 1976 throughout the 1980s, the Hawaiian contemporary band gained in popularity as they toured Hawaiʻi and the continental United States and released fifteen successful albums.

In 1982 Iz's brother Skippy Kamakawiwoʻole died of a heart attack. In that same year, Iz married his childhood sweetheart Marlene and soon after had a daughter whom they named Ceslieanne "Wehi".

[edit] Music career

"Bruddah Iz" on the cover of Facing Future

Israel formed the musical group Makaha Sons of Niʻihau with brother Skippy plus Louis "Moon" Kauakahi, Sam Gray and Jerome Koko. They recorded No Kristo in 1976 and released four more albums, including Kahea O Keale, Keala, Makaha Sons Of Ni'ihau and Mahalo Ke Akua, before Skippy's death of a heart attack in 1982. The group became Hawaii's most popular traditional group with breakout albums like 1984's Puana Hou Me Ke Aloha and its follow-up, 1986's Hoʻola. Israel's last recorded album with the group was 1991's Hoʻoluana. It remains the group's top-selling CD.

In 1990, Iz released his first solo album Kaʻanoʻi, which won awards for Contemporary Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year from the Hawaiʻi Academy of Recording Arts (HARA). Facing Future was released in 1993 by The Mountain Apple Company. It featured his most popular song, the medley "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World", along with "Hawaiʻi 78", "White Sandy Beach of Hawaiʻi", "Maui Hawaiian Sup'pa Man", and "Kaulana Kawaihae". Facing Future debuted at #25 on Billboard Magazine's Top Pop Catalogue chart. On October 26, 2005, "Facing Future" became Hawaii's first certified platinum album, selling more than a million CDs in the United States, according to figures furnished by the Recording Industry Association of America.[2] On July 21 2006 BBC Radio 1 announced that "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" would be released as a single.

In 1994, Iz was voted favorite entertainer of the year by the Hawaiʻi Academy of Recording Arts (HARA).

E Ala E (1995) featured the political title song "ʻE Ala ʻE" and "Kaleohano", and N Dis Life (1996) featured "In This Life" and "Starting All Over Again".

As his career progressed, Iz was known for promoting Hawaiian rights and Hawaiian independence, both through his music (whose lyrics often stated the case for independence directly) and through his life.

In 1997, Iz was again honored by HARA at the Annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards for Male Vocalist of the Year, Favorite Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, and Island Contemporary Album of the Year. He watched the awards ceremony from a hospital room.

Alone In IZ World (2001) debuted at #1 on Billboard's World Chart and #135 on Billboard's Top 200, #13 on the Top Independent Albums Chart, and #15 on the Top Internet Album Sales charts.

[edit] Death

Throughout the latter part of his life, Iz suffered from severe obesity and at one point carried 769 pounds (349 kg) on his 6 feet 2 inches (1.9 m) frame. He endured several hospitalizations and died of weight-related respiratory illness on June 26, 1997 at 12:18 am at the age of 38.[3] He is survived by his wife Marlene Kamakawiwo'ole and his daughter Ceslieanne "Wehe". [4]

The Hawaiʻi State Flag flew at half-mast on July 10, 1997, the day of Iz's funeral. His koa wood coffin lay in state at the Capitol building in Honolulu. He was the third person in Hawaiian history to be accorded this honor (the other two were Governor John A. Burns and Senator Spark Matsunaga) and the only non-politician. Over 10,000 people attended his funeral. Thousands of fans gathered and cheered as his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean at Mākua Beach on July 12, 1997.[5]

On September 20, 2003, hundreds paid tribute to Iz as a 200-pound bronze bust of the revered singer was unveiled at the Waianae Neighborhood Community Center on Oʻahu. The singer's widow, Marlene Kamakawiwoʻole, and sculptor Jan-Michelle Sawyer were present for the dedication ceremony.[6]

[edit] Legacy

Israel's recording of "Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" reached #12 on Billboard's Hot Digital Tracks chart the week of January 31, 2004 (for the survey week ending January 18, 2004).

On July 4, 2007, Israel Kamakawiwoʻole debuted at No. 44 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart with "Wonderful World," selling 17,000 units. It was his biggest sales week ever, helping him garner his second No. 1 on Billboard's Top World Music chart. As of October 2007, the album has sold 75,000 copies.[citation needed]

The song continues to be a low-charting best seller, passing 1,348,000 downloads sold as of the survey week ending August 10, 2008, according to Nielsen Soundscan.

[edit] Discography

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ The Legacy: A Voice Of Hawai'i and Hawaiians, "http//", August 19, 2008
  2. ^ Braddah Iz's Facing Future goes platinum, a first for Hawaii, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 6, 2005
  3. ^ 'IZ' will always be, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 26, 1997
  4. ^ Isles bid aloha, not goodbye, to ‘Brudda Iz’, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, July 10, 1997
  5. ^ Isles bid aloha, not goodbye, to ‘Bradda Iz’, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, July 10, 1997
  6. ^ Sculpture's debut honors 'Braddah IZ' Honolulu Star-Bulletin, September 21, 2003.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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