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Israel Kamakawiwole: The Story of Hawaii's Gentle Giant

How a kind big guy became the most recognizable Hawaiian singer in the world. The life story of one of the most amazing Hawaiians.

The Life of Hawaiian Musician Israel Kamakawiwoole: History, Creativity and Influence

Israel "iz" Kamakawiwoole - World famous Hawaiian ukulele player and songwriter, nicknamed in his homeland "gentle giant" (gentle giant). Those who knew him speak of the musician as "the sweetest person in the world."

Israel Kamakawiwole
Israel Kamakawiwole

Kamakawiwoole has been more of an influence on Hawaiian music. He is rightfully considered the greatest Hawaiian singer of all time. In 2010, NPR (National Public Radio USA) named him "The Voice of Hawaii".

Early years: The boy who grew up with a ukulele in his hands

Israel Kamakavoole as a child
Israel Kamakavoole as a child

Kamakawiwoole was born in the city Honolulu in the family of Henry Kamakawiwoole and Evangeline Kamakawiwoole. Both parents of the future musician worked in the Waikiki nightclub. Mother worked as a manager, and father worked as a bouncer.
Popular Hawaiian musician Mo Keel, ukulele virtuoso, was uncle Israel and had a great influence on his nephew's attitude to music.

With the choice of a musical instrument in Hawaii, no one had any problems, because the symbol of Hawaii is it's a ukulele. So Israel began to learn to play the four-string guitar. Not a day has passed since he got the ukulele no game On him.

The boy studied music with the elder Skippy's brother and cousin Allen Thornton. Sometimes they went together to the club where Israel and Skippy's parents worked and listened to the musicians play. Palani Won and Don Howho often performed there.

After a few years of playing Kamakawiwoole mastered instrument and voice at such a level that the music he performed was liked not only by friends, but also to everyone else.

Hawaiian musician Del Beasley said that Kamakawiwoole's performance at the prom forced room shut up. The guy sang so beautifully that no one at that moment believed that it was his voice.

The Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau

Later Kamakawiwoole family moves to Makaha. There, Israel finds new friends who, like him, were interested in music. New friends of the young musician became Jerome Coco, Louis Kauakahi and Sam Gray. Together with Skippy in 1976 they create a musical group The Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau.

The composition of the group did not change for six years, friends managed to release several albums and successfully toured across America. Kamakawiwoole sought to create music reminiscent of traditional Hawaiian compositions. He wanted to introduce Americans to such music, and he even succeeded do it. The group's albums were popular not only in Hawaii, but also in other countries. US states.

makaha sons of ni'ihau
Makaha sons of Ni'ihau. Skippy in the center, top left - Israel

The group's business went uphill, until in 1982 Skippy died. He died due to health problems related to obesity. At the time of his death, he was not even 30 years old.

Later that year Kamakawiwoole marries on a childhood sweetheart named Marlene. A year later they have a daughter will be born, whom they named Sesley-Anne Kamakawiwoole.

Ten years later Israel leaves the group. In honor of this, the remaining members will change their name to The Makaha Sons.

Fight for the rights of Hawaiians

Kamakawiwoole was famous activist and wrestler for the rights of Hawaiians. Through songs, he spread the ideas that he defended. For example, in the song "Hawai'i 78", the musician repeatedly repeated the motto of the Hawaiians: "UA MAU KE EA O KA AINA I KA PONO O HAWAI I", which can be translated as: "The life of the country is perpetuated in justice."

Kamakawiwoole used music to call on compatriots protect their culture, tradition and land. He didn't want Hawaii to become just another tourist attraction.

Solo Career: Hawaii First Platinum

In 1988, a musician came into the studio late at night and asked if he could to record a song. Half an hour later Israel recorded by "Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" is a medley that conquered the whole world.

In 1990, Kamakawiwoole released the first solo album "Ka ʻAnoʻi", which received awards Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts for Contemporary Album of the Year and Singer of the Year.

Next album "Face Future" was released in 1993. It presented a version of the popular songs Somewhere Over the Rainbow. "Meeting the Future" became the first platinum album in Hawaii.

The stunning success made the musician the most popular Hawaiian performer in the world. In the US, hundreds of thousands of people listened to his albums.
In 1997 he won almost all nominations from the local academy, but come to the ceremony couldn'tbecause he was in the hospital.

How the world lost a "gentle giant"

The musician suffered from obesity all ones life. He was called the gentle giant for a reason - he weighed 343 kg with a height of 1.88 m. Due to the large weight and numerous chronic diseases, including breathing and heart problems, the musician suffered several hospitalizations. In 1997, at the age of 38, he died due to respiratory failure.

Israel Kamakawiwoole and rainbow
Israel Kamakawiwoole under the rainbow

The Hawaiians respected Kamakawiwoole so much that on the day of the funeral they lowered their Hawaiian flags. Prior to this, the ashes of the musician were kept in the Honolulu State Capitol, which made the musician the third person to be so honored.

It's over to say goodbye to the singer 10 thousand fans. They all gathered when the ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean. scenes funeral and scattering the ashes of Kamakawiwoole shown in the official music videos for "Over the Rainbow", posthumously released by the Mountain Apple Company.

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