Israel Kamakawiwo'ole: The Hawaiian with the Golden Voice.

A Special musician

Israel Kamakawiwo 'ole
Sometimes in this world we come across some strange or amazing thing, or people, purely by accident. This is what happened to me the other night.
I was visiting a friend who happened to be playing a CD. Whilst we were talking I found myself listening more to the amazing and soothing voice of the singer who was softly playing in the background.

I asked who he was, and my friend stated that he thought the man was Hawaiian but wasn't sure. All he knew was, that he had died about ten years ago. I couldn't get this song out of my head. It was a well known tune, 'Somewhere over the rainbow' but the person singing it was amazing.

The tune was more upbeat than the usual versions and I kept humming it all the next day. By that evening I couldn't get on with any work, I had to look up this mysterious singer. Clicking onto the video I watched this amazing man sing the tune with such rhythm and a beautiful tone to his voice.

Then I began to watch the people around him and realised that I had come across someone extraordinary. The local people around him were smiling and dancing, and looking at him with such love and respect that I realised he was someone pretty special. All I can say is by the end of the tape I was nearly in tears. I had never met this man or seen him on TV, but the whole video moved me. So this is when I thought I would write about him. Obviously in America and Hawaii he would be well know, but I had never heard of him. And I felt he deserved to be brought out to the rest of the world.


He was born Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, but his friends and family called him Iz. He came into the world on May the 20th 1959. at Kuakini Hospital in Honolulu. His mother's name was Evangeline Leinani Kamakawiwo'ole, his fathers name was Henry Naniwa Kamakawiwo'ole. When he was brought home he lived in Kaimuku where his parents had met and married.

By the age of eleven, he started to get interested in music with his brother Pippy, and by the time he had reached his teens, he went to study at the university of Hawaii at Hilo, this is when his family moved to Makaha Hawaii. It was here that he met his future band members, Louis Kauakahi, known as Star, Sam Gray, and Jerome Koko, and they called themselves Makaha Sons of Nihau. Singing Hawaiian music they started to gain popularity, and by the late 1970s and into the 1980s they toured Hawaii and the United states.


After releasing fifteen very successful albums. Tragedy struck. Israel's brother, Skippy, died of a heart attack. This must have been devastating for him, and he turned to his
childhood sweetheart, Marlene. And soon afterwards they married. They were lucky enough to have a little girl who they called Ceslieanne Wehi.


He then went on to make numerous albums, which I won't list here as there are too many to mention but you can easily find them on the Internet.
After singing with his group he then went on to sing solo, and won numerous awards including Contemporary album of the year, and Male vocalist of the year.
After a while he became known for promoting Hawaiian rights.
As he got older he became very obese, which later they believed was caused through a medical problem. This made him very ill and at the age of thirty eight, such a young age, he was rushed to hospital but died on June 26 1997.


The loss to music and the country of Hawaii was so great that the Hawaii state flag was flown at half mast on the day of his funeral. he was laid in state at the capitol building of Honolulu. He was only the third person to be given this honour. Thousands of people came to watch as his ashes were scattered over the pacific ocean at Makua beach on July 12 1997.


On September 20 2003, The community had a bronze bust made of him which is displayed at the Waianae neighborhood co unity centre on O'ahu.
After reading about him, I felt I had been missing out on a story of a remarkable man taken too soon. I am sure after watching the video, you will feel the same.

Israel Kamakawiwo ole Hawaii
Israel Kamakawiwo ole Hawaii

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

More by this Author


Comments 51 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

A really beautiful hub and credit to the man. It is such a shame that the world lost him so early. The consolation that his music leaves on. I know the Hawaiian people are gifted with music and dance. They such beautiful people, in looks and personality. Thank you for writing this hub.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Hi, Hello, Yes I agree with you, I just had to write about him, As he is such a great singer. Thanks for writing again I do like hearing from you, cheers Nell


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

I had never heard of Israel. I am enjoying the video as I write this! Beautiful.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Hi Green Lotus, yeah it is lovely isn't it? There are so many versions of this song, but his is much better than the rest. thanks again. Nell


mega1 profile image

mega1 6 years ago

Iz lives! beautiful Hub, Nell. Love this video very much!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Thanks, Mega1, I had not heard of him before, but as I said in the hub, I just heard him on the cd, and I couldn't get him out of my head. thanks again. Nell


ehern33 profile image

ehern33 6 years ago

I have heard this song but never knew who sung it. Great tribute to him and thanks for bringing the pieces together for me. Great work.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Thanks ahern, yes he is amazing isn't he? I heard the record and my curiosity did the rest. thanks again for reading it. Cheers. Nell


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

First I have heard of him too and yes...so beautiful.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Hi, Pollyannalana, thanks for stopping by, yes he is great isn't he? I don't understand why I hadn't heard of him before. Thanks again. Nell


hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 6 years ago from Italy

Iz was really great. It took me almost a year to discover who was singing Somewhere over the rainbow in that wonderful way. Great hub Nell.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Hi hypnodude,thanks for reading it. yes he was great wasn't he? I never even knew he existed and when I found out that he had died it was really sad. cheers Nell


Michael AngelOh profile image

Michael AngelOh 6 years ago from Hawaii

I met IZ some years ago as we both were involved in some Hawaiian Music promotion on the Norht Shore of Oahu. He was a magnificent presence and a beautiful representation of the best in Hawaiian Music and Hawaiian culture focused on the Aloha Spirit...


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Hi, Michael. How lucky you are. I just can't stop listening to him now. I just wish he had been more well know in England, I would have followed his music a long time ago. thank you so much for your comment. I hope I did him justice. thanks again. Nell


Silvia 6 years ago

I heard Somewhere over the rainbow by Iz when the credits rolled down at the end of the movie "Finding Forester" and exactly as you say..I just could not get it out of my head!! When I need a pick up, I listen to Israel's version of this song because it is truly truly special; it warms my heart like any other...somewhere over the rainbow IZ must be feeling loved!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Hi, Silvia, thanks for reading it. I know, it was strange how I felt When I first heard IZ sing it, I had to find out more about it, and then write a hub about it! the lovely thing is that, if you read above, someone has made a comment to me, who actually was his friend and worked with him! how nice is that? thanks for comment. cheers nell


Georgiakevin profile image

Georgiakevin 6 years ago from Central Georgia

I went to Hawaii in 2000. His music was played everywhere on Kauai and Oahu. He had one of the purest tenor voices I have ever listened to. I enjoyed his music in 2000 I enjoy it more now.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Hi, Georgiakevin, I only discovered him a while ago, and was blown away, I would love to go to Hawaii and listen to him on the radio in his own territory, it was so sad what happened to him. thank you again for reading my hubs, cheers nell


Sa`ge profile image

Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

Aloha Nell;

Did not know you did this for Brother Iz. Thank you it is beautiful and I know he loved it as I did. He is better known in Hawaii and the Orient and Japan then in the USA.

People in Nevada know of him because he played in Vegas and Reno a lot. He made many tours to Japan, The people there loved him. He was a kind and gentle soul who loved everyone, no matter who or what! You did such a wonderful work here to him. Thank you so much! ~Aloha Nui Loa~


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Hi, Sa'ge, I am glad you liked it, I wrote it ages ago, and the funny thing was how it came about. I was listening to some music with my friend and we were chatting, and this song came on the radio or cd, can't remember which, and even though it was such an old song, the way he sang it just blew me away, so I leapt up and ran to the computer and found the video of it, I sat there in tears, soppy me! lol, and then had to write about him, thanks for reading it and I am glad you managed to find it, cheers nell


Sa`ge profile image

Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

His voice had a magic quality about it. His heart was in the tone of his voice and in his eyes, you could feel it. You could also feel his pain and his anger but yet it was tempered with love and you could feel it. My prayer is that I can reach that in my whole being and allow others to feel it also. :) ~aloha~


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 6 years ago from England Author

Hi, Sa'ge, thanks for the link to the videoo, I have changed it now so it can be seen again, IZ was a fantastic singer and you can feel his personality coming through the song, what a lovely man, and what a magic voice, such a waste, I wish I had known about him years ago, thanks so much again nell


sligobay profile image

sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

Why Nell Rose, we share yet another delight in common. Iz and his videos are randomly scattered through my early Hubs so that I can revisit them. I include music in my hubs for my own listening pleasure. Selfish, huh? Someone commented that Somewhere over the rainbow was featured in "Finding Forrester". This film with Sean Connery is one of the most brilliant films that I have ever viewed and I highly recommend it! I love IZ and love that you love him too. PS : The country of Hawaii became the 49th or 50th State in the USA around the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Cheers.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, sligo, I never knew that about the country becoming the 50th State, I think that I have seen Finding Forrester, not sure, I will have to go take a look, thanks as always, nell


fayehelen profile image

fayehelen 5 years ago

Hi Nell,

I also fell in love with his music after hearing his version of somewhere over the rainbow, and brought one of his albums after that. His voice is so relaxing, I could listen to him forever.

Thanks for sharing. Take care, fayehelen!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, fayehelen, it was gorgeous, wasn't it? I sobbed over the video of it! lol I have just ordered a cd of his, so I am hoping that it will be just as great, thanks again nell


duffsmom profile image

duffsmom 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

I love his music and such a wonderful voice and talent. thank you for this marvelous hub Nell Rose.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, duffsmom, he was lovely wasn't he? I am trying to bring my old hubs back up to speed! and suddenly found this one, after listening to Somewhere over the Rainbow again, I thought that I would re do bits and pieces, thanks so much nell


jami l. pereira 5 years ago

Ohhhh... Ms.Nell Rose , I sat and listened to his music for over an hour now and will be purchasing the cd evintually , he has a voice of an angel ,and im sure he had a heart to match , i noticed at the bottom of one of his videos , someone made an ugly comment that said ..."Hes Fat!", and i thought to myself ... sadly ... How shallow can people be? how sad that someone could not see his true beauty in voice and heart but just his outter shell , This is an amazing Hub and i feel Blessed that you have shared it ! thank you very much!I voted this piece up all the way across the board , it is amazingly beautiful :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, jami, I know what you mean, some people are so shallow that they cannot see someone who was so special, I love his voice, I must have played that video a least a dozen times! lol thanks again, nell


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Wasn't sure what to expect but by golly does that big boy have a smooth voice. And what a song. Wonder how he'd tackle David Bowie's 'Starman' or 'Ziggy Stardust' Awesome find my lady. Vote um up and Tri Tack Nell.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Alastar, the first time I heard him I couldn't stop singing that song! then I found out that he was Hawaiian and had to write about him, what a shame that he's not with us still, thanks as always nell


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Yeah that is a shame. Big men like that are usually gentle giants. No disrespect meant just wondered how he would have handled some of Bowies stuff. You know I ain't right Nell.:D


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, Alastar, ha ha you always make me laugh! answer me a question, do you keep changing your profile picture or are you mysteriously getting closer to the camera! ha ha


marellen 5 years ago

Hi Nell....I just came across this wonderful singer through my cousin who told me about her favorite version of somewhere over the rainbow. I Google him and couldn't believe what a wonderful voice was coming from this big man. Thanks you for sharing this.


My Minds Eye53 profile image

My Minds Eye53 5 years ago from Tennessee

I had heard his version but never knew who it was that sang it. He looked to be a happy and kind man.

Thank you Nell.


A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 5 years ago from Texas

I heard this song when it was played on the TV show "ER." One the main characters was dying from cancer, and the montage showed him admiring his children and legacy. The singer had such a beautiful voice. Thank you for sharing.


CJamesIII profile image

CJamesIII 5 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

This version still brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. The prolific author Dean Koontz is also a fan.


My Minds Eye53 profile image

My Minds Eye53 5 years ago from Tennessee

I remember that episode A.A. Zavala. That is where I heard it the first time.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, marellen, he is good isn't he? I couldn't believe the lovely voice coming out of the radio, thanks for reading, cheers nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, My Minds Eye, he did have a lovely smile, didn't he? thanks for commenting, cheers nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, A.A. if I had watched it, I would have cried buckets if they played this too! lol its a lovely version, isn't it? thanks nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, CJames, I love Dean Koontz! I am actually reading his latest at the moment! lol thanks for reading, cheers nell


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

So sad that such a wonderful talent was silenced much too soon. After watching the video, I'm sure I, too, first heard Iz sing "Over The Rainbow" on ER. Have to find that box of Kleenex now... Thanks!


Elearn4Life profile image

Elearn4Life 5 years ago

Thank you so much for this. I've heard him sing and never knew who it was. I'm sure he will live forever in the people that he touched.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England Author

Hi, JamaGenee, I only have to hear this version and its starts me off! lol especially the video, how lovely was that? thanks again nell

Hi, elearn4Life, I think he was wonderful, what a loss to music, thanks so much nell


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether

I absolutely LOVE his voice! His version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow is one of my favorite songs of all time. Absolutely stunning.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Thanks kitty, he was absolutely awesome, it was so sad that he died so young, his voice was amazing, thanks as always, nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

it takes one to know one wyda........


2 years ago

This song makes me cry and miss hawaii even morr


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Thanks z it makes me cry too.

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