Israel Kamakawiwo’ole


Born: 20 May 1959
Died: 26 June 1997 (respiratory failure)
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii
Best known as: Super-sized Hawaiian singer of "Over the Rainbow"

Known as "Bruddah Iz," Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was a beloved figure in Hawaiian music during the 1990s. His 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's popularity in Hawaii was such that after his death, his body lay 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.

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