Israel Kamakawiwoʻole was a Hawaiian musician who performed his own songs as well as beautiful renditions of other songs while playing the ukulele. Israel had an amazing voice and is best known for his medley of two famous songs: “Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World.” Those songs, along with many others, united the Hawaiian people and were heard all over the world. This is why Israel Kamakawiwoʻole is remembered not only as an amazing musician but also as a fighter for his country’s independence.
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His talent emerged at an early age, and his parents knew he was special. The boy enjoyed singing with his brother and cousin, but in his early teens, he moved to Makaha, and his life changed completely. At the beach, he met people who were also in love with music. Those were Louis Kauakahi, Sam Gray, and Jerome Koko. Together with Israel’s brother, Skippy, the guys formed the Makaha Sons of Niʻihau. At that moment, the young people didn’t know their band would soon rock the islands an the whole world.
The Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau played different styles of music, but always stayed under the Hawaiian influence. Their erly melodic songs quickly earned success among locals, and The Makaha Sons went on to record 21 albums.
Locals and fans called Israel Kamakawiwoʻole Gentle Giant. The artist got that nickname because of the unbelievable combination of his soft, touching voice, and his appearance: Israel weighed 757 pounds and was 6 feet 2 inches tall.
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The musician’s moving lyrics and melodies still touch listeners’ heartstrings.
Kamakawiwoʻole passed away at the age of 38 in 1997. The Hawaii state flag flew at half-staff on July 10, 1997, the day of Kamakawiwoʻole’s funeral. He was the third person in his state’s history to be awarded this honor.
He is a Hawaiian legend indeed! For those who haven’t heard Kamakawiwoʻole’s amazing voice, there is a video below.
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