Israel "IZ" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole; (May 20, 1959 – June 26, 1997) was a Hawaiian musician.
He became famous outside Hawaii releasing his album "Facing Future" in 1993. His medley of "Over the Rainbow" and "What a Wonderful World" was subsequently featured in several films, television programs, and commercials.
Through his ukulele playing and incorporation of other genres (such as jazz and reggae), Kamakawiwoʻole remains one of the major influences in Hawaiian music.
Israel really has had a massive impact on many peoples lives in and out of Hawaii in his life and even after his passing in 1997. I challenge you to find me a single person who can listen to a couple of Israel's songs without a tear forming in one or more eyes.
Throughout his life Israel had weight problems. He was obese to an extreme but this did not stop him from producing music, making people smile and sharing the love, he was a big guy with an even bigger heart.
I think of this guy a lot, his music means a fair bit to me, his songs..his words...he was a very clever and genuine guy he wasn't just some big guy who could play guitar and sing.
I think if he were watching us he would not want us to be sad over his death and feel bad, he would want us to remember his great life, his achievements, the entertainment and smiles he brought to us all, I feel this quote is important to show his outlook on life.
"I was scared when I lost my mother, my father, my brother, my sister, I guess this is gonna sound kind of weird, but I'm not scared for myself for dying. Because I believe all these places are temporary. This is just one shell. Because we Hawaiians live in both worlds. It's in our veins. When our time come, don't cry for me. Don't cry for me. Plant a tree in the middle, where they play soccer, Kind of small, then I'll grow big."
Anyway if you could just take a moment to remember this great guy, listen to a few of his songs and maybe even have a think about family members or even friends you have had to say goodbye to. It is painful to say goodbye but remembering them will always bring a smile to your face, trust me I know, I have lost enough family and friends, it's great to have a little remembrance session every now and then.
My personal favourite songs of his are "White Sandy Beach of Hawai‘i", "Hawai'i '78" and of course "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"