The Legacy of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole: A Musical Icon

Celebrating Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s Musical Journey

Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwo’ole, also affectionately known as Iz, Big Iz, or The Gentle Giant, left an indelible mark on the world with his soulful rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.” This medley, released in 1993 on his album “Facing Future,” has graced numerous TV shows, commercials, and movie soundtracks, encapsulating the serene and joyful essence of island life.

A Voice for Native Hawaiian Culture

Iz’s music, characterized by its tender tenor ukulele and his distinctive falsetto, was more than just melody; it was a heartfelt expression of native Hawaiian culture, a culture he saw as being overshadowed by the commercialization of the islands. From an early age, Iz was cognizant of the dilution of traditional Hawaiian music and dedicated his career to reviving and celebrating it through his albums.

A Life and Legacy Remembered

Despite struggles with obesity that ultimately led to his untimely death at 38 in 1997, Iz’s spirit and philosophy towards life and death remained rooted in Hawaiian tradition. His views on life’s transience and the importance of living in harmony with both worlds reflect the deep spiritual and cultural connections of the Hawaiian people.

Iz’s passing was mourned by thousands, his memorial services drawing a crowd of 10,000 and marking him as the only non-government Hawaiian to lie in state at the capital. Today, his music continues to inspire and uphold the rich musical heritage of Hawaii, ensuring his memory and influence endure within Hawaiian culture.

Explore the musical genius of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and his contribution to Hawaiian culture. Watch the video below to witness the timeless beauty of his most cherished songs.