Music / I / Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole / Biography
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Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole - Biography
|last update : 28-02-2011 05:44|
|Israel "IZ" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole (Hawaiian pronunciation: [kaˌmakaˌʋiwoˈʔole]; May 20, 1959 – June 26, 1997) was a Hawaiian musician.
He became famous outside Hawaii when his album Facing Future was released in 1993. His medley of "Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World" was subsequently featured in several films, television programs, and commercials.
Through his ukulele playing and incorporation of other genres (such as jazz and reggae), Kamakawiwoʻole remains one of the major influences in Hawaiian music over the course of 15 years.
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 and cousin Allen Thornton at the age of 11, being exposed to the music of Hawaiian entertainers of the time such as Peter Moon, Palani Vaughn, and Don Ho, who frequented the establishment where Kamakawiwoʻole's parents worked. Israel continued his path as his brother Skippy entered the Army in 1971 and cousin Allen parted ways in 1976 for the mainland.
Somewhere Over The Rainbow / What A Wonderful World
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In his early teens, he studied at Upward Bound (UB) of the University of Hawaii at Hilo and his family moved to Mākaha. 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 Hawaii and the continental United States and released fifteen successful albums.
In 1982, Kamakawiwoʻole's brother, Skippy Kamakawiwoʻole died of a heart attack. In that same year, Kamakawiwoʻole married his childhood sweetheart Marlene. Soon after, they had a daughter whom they named Ceslie-Ann "Wehi".
"Bruddah Iz" on the cover of Facing Future
Kamakawiwoʻole 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 Niʻihau and Mahalo Ke Akua, before Skippy died of a heart attack in 1982. The group became Hawaii's most popular traditional group with breakout albums 1984's Puana Hou Me Ke Aloha and its follow-up, 1986's Hoʻola. Kamakawiwoʻole's last recorded album with the group was 1991's Hoʻoluana. It remains the group's top-selling CD.
In 1990, Kamakawiwoʻole released his first solo album Ka ʻAnoʻi, 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. On July 21, 2006, BBC Radio 1 announced that "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World(True Dreams)" would be released as a single in America.
In 1994, Kamakawiwoʻole 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".
Kamakawiwoʻole was known for promoting Hawaiian rights and Hawaiian independence, both through his lyrics, which often stated the case for independence directly, and his life.
In 1997, Kamakawiwoʻole 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.
Throughout his whole life, Kamakawiwoʻole was obese and at one point carried 757 pounds (343 kg; 54.1 st) on his 6-foot-2-inch (1.88 m) frame. He endured several hospitalizations because of problems caused by his weight. At age 38, he died of weight-related respiratory illness at The Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu on June 26, 1997, at 12:18 a.m. Kamakawiwoʻole is survived by his wife, Marlene Kamakawiwoʻole, and his daughter, Ceslie-Ann "Wehi".
The Hawaiʻi State Flag flew at half-staff on July 10, 1997, the day of Kamakawiwoʻole'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 awarded this honor, and the only one who was not a government official. Approximately ten thousand people attended the funeral. Thousands of fans gathered as his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean at Mākua Beach on July 12, 1997.
On September 20, 2003, hundreds paid tribute to Kamakawiwoʻole as a 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.
In the year 1998, Kamakawiwo'ole's recording of "Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" featured as a sound track in the movies Meet Joe Black and Finding Forrester.
"Over the Rainbow" was also used in the 2004 movie 50 First Dates.
"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), and passed the 2 million paid downloads mark in the USA as of September 27, 2009.
On July 4, 2007, Kamakawiwoʻole debuted at No. 44 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart with "Wonderful World," selling 17,000 units.
In April 2007, "Over the Rainbow" entered the UK charts at #68, and eventually climbed to #46, spending 10 weeks in the Top 100 over a 2 year period.
In October 2010, following its use on a TV advertisement – for Axe deodorant (which is itself a revival of the advertisement originally aired in 2004) – it hit #1 on the German singles chart, selling 300,000 copies.
The 2010 IMAX: Hubble 3D feature uses both "What a Wonderful World" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" with the latter playing over the ending credits.
As of November 1, 2010, "Over the Rainbow" peaked at No. 6 on the OE3 Austria charts, which largely reflect airplay on Austria's government-operated Top 40 radio network. It also peaked at No.1 in France and Switzerland in late December 2010.
On December 6, 2010, "Iz" was named one of the 50 great voices on National Public Radio.
It is also used in the 2009 BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) Series "South Pacific" as the intro track.
Actor Ron Silver used IZs "Over The Rainbow" to close out his daily show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
Ka ʻAnoʻi (1990)
Facing Future (1993)
E Ala E (1995)
N Dis Life (1996)
Iz in Concert: The Man and His Music (1998)
Alone in Iz World (2001)
Wonderful World (2007)
Over the Rainbow (2011)