NATIVE HAWAIIAN ISRAEL “IZ” KAMAKAWIWO’OLE BORN—FAMED UKELELE MUSICIAN
Born in Honolulu, “Iz” began playing music by age 10. In Makaha, he and brother Skippy formed the Makaha Sons of Niʻihau which became Hawaii’s most popular contemporary traditional group. In 1990, Iz’s album Ka ʻAnoʻi won Hawaii’an awards for Contemporary Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. Facing Future, in 1993, featured Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World and became the best-selling Hawaiian album of all time and, in 2005, became Hawaiʻi’s first platinum album. In 1994 and 1997, he was voted Hawaiian favorite entertainer of the year and, in 1997 Hawaiian Male Vocalist of the Year. Iz strongly promoted Hawaiian rights and Hawaiian independence, in lyrics and in life. He died in Honolulu on June 26, 1997. The Hawaii state flag flew at half-staff and he laid in state at the state capitol building. In 2010, NPR named Iz “The Voice of Hawaii” in its 50 great voices series.
Sources: Blair Jackson, “Remembering Bruddah Iz: 20 Years After his Death, Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole Still Melts Hearts and Inspires,” Ukelele, 7/24/2017. Retrieved 6/30/2019, http://www.ukulelemag.com/stories/iz-20-years-after-his death-israel-kamakawiwoole-still-melts-hearts-and-inspire-ukulele. Catherine Kekoa Enomoto, Gregg K. Kakesako (June 26, 1997). "'IZ' Will Always Be," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 6/26/1997. Retrieved 6/30/2019, http://archives.starbulletin.com/1997/06/26/news/story1.html Photo: Wemba, 9/20/2008. 1930 Martin Ukelele. Permissive Use.