Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Kent Buckingham /, CC BY 2.0 (

Hawaiian Singer, Ukulele player, & Activist • May 20, 1959 – June 26, 1997 • Contemporary Traditional Music

Fast Facts

  • In Hawaiian Kamakawiwo’ole translates “the fearless eye, the bold face.”
  • Formed a band with his brother called Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau
  • He and his band embraced traditional Hawaiian melodies.
  • He is known around the world for his versions of “Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World.”
  • He believed that Hawaii should become an independent country.
  • He and many of his family members struggled with health problems due to obesity.
  • His nickname was “IZ.”
  • He died of respiratory failure at age 38.

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