Facts about Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole died at 38 years old
Born: May 20, 1959
Best known as: Super-sized Hawaiian singer of "Over the Rainbow"



Israel Kamakawiwo’ole Biography

Known as “Bruddah Iz,” Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was a beloved figure in Hawaiian music during the 1990s.

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s pure, light tenor was as famous as his sumo-sized physique; at one point he weighed over 750 pounds. Kamakawiwo’ole co-founded the popular musical group the Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau with his brother Skippy, who died of a heart attack in 1982.

Israel began a solo career in 1993, and his 1996 album ‘N Dis Life won Hawaiian music awards for album of the year, island contemporary album of the year and best male vocalist. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was only 38 when he died of respiratory failure and obesity-related factors in 1997. His popularity in Hawaii was such that after his death, his body lay in honor in the state capitol building.

Extra credit

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and his wife Marlene had one daughter, Ceslieanne, known as “Wehi” (b. 1982)… His version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a tune first made famous by Judy Garland, became particularly famous after his death… An animated video of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was featured on the front page of Google for May 20, 2020, on what would have been his 61st birthday. The caption read, in part: “Through his joyful songs and lifelong advocacy for the islands’ values and culture, Israel has been widely referred to as the ‘Voice of Hawai’i.'”


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