Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo'ole


Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo'ole

Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA
Death 26 Jun 1997 (aged 38)
Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA
Cenotaph Kaneohe, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA
Memorial ID 7870968 View Source
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Musician. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, or Braddah Iz as he was more commonly known, was a native Hawaiian musician. Iz, also nicknamed "The Gentle Giant" was a cheerful man who loved Hawaii, both its land and the people. As a skilled ukulele player, he fused contemporary music with jazz and reggae to produce his own unique sound using his beautiful tenor voice. He is regarded as one of the major influences in contemporary Hawaiian music. Raised in Kaimuki, he was born to Henry and Evangeline Keale Kamakawiwo and the youngest of three siblings. Almost pure Hawaiian, which is a rare breed, he could trace his ancestral lineage to an island that even today remains the most Hawaiian of all the islands, Ni'ihua. At the age of eleven, he started playing music with his brother and was fortunate to meet several great Hawaiian entertainers such as Peter Moon and Don Ho. He was called “the kid with the ukulele”. In 1976 he helped form the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau, and they toured throughout the United States. The Makaha Sons recorded 21 albums, won many Na Hoku Hanohano Awards and change Hawaiian music history. In 1990 Iz released his first solo album, which he garnered awards for Contemporary Album and Male Vocalist of the Year from the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts. His popular “Somewhere Over the Rainbow-What a Wonderful World” medley was released in 1993 on the “Facing Future” album. The amazing recording was done in one single live take in the wee hours of the morning. “Facing Future” was followed with the release of another five remarkable recordings: “E Ala E” in 1995, “N Dis Life” in 1996,”IZ in Concert: The Man and His Music” in 1998, “Alone in IZ World” in 2001 and “Wonderful World” in 2007. “Facing Future” remains the top selling Hawaiian music album in the world, yet “N Dis Life” was on the charts for 39 weeks. His “Somewhere Over the Rainbow-What a Wonderful World” was used for the movie “Meet Joe Black” and TV commercials world wide. Author Dean Koontz honored IZ in two of his books, “From the Corner of His Eyes” and “One Door Away From Heaven”. The momentum continued into late 2000, as his music was featured in a major motion picture, “Finding Forrester” starring Sean Connery. In his personal life, he was married and had a daughter. Despite not earning a high school diploma, Iz became a role model, promoting Hawaiian independence through his actions, music and kicking a drug habit. Late in his, life he became a Christian. At Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu, he died of heart, lung, and kidney failure related to his obesity and years of abuse of hard drugs. At one point, his weight was 757 pounds on his 6-foot 2-inch frame making it difficult to travel and maintain his performance schedule. His coffin lay-in-state at the Capitol in Honolulu and Hawai'i State Flags flew at half-staff on July 10, 1997. Later his ashes were scattered at Makua Beach.

Bio by: Megan


Facing future I see hope
Hope that we will survive
Hope that we will prosper
Hope that once again we will reap the blessings of this magical land
For without hope I cannot live
Remember the past
But do not dwell there
Face the future
Where all our hopes stand


In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Mongoose
  • Added: 15 Sep 2003
  • Find a Grave Memorial 7870968
  • Find a Grave, database and images ('ole : accessed ), memorial page for Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo'ole (20 May 1959–26 Jun 1997), Find a Grave Memorial ID 7870968, citing Hawaiian Memorial Park, Kaneohe, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .