From the first few notes of the iconic ukulele intro to "Somewhere Over the Rain," joy washes over many people's faces when they recognize the familiar and heartwarming song. It's hard not to be mesmerized by Israel Ka'ano'i Kamakawiwo'ole (IZ) velvety beautiful voice. While many people know IZ because of this iconic song, they may not be aware of the story of the man behind the music. Israel touched millions of peoples lives through his artistic pursuits as well as through Hawaiian advocacy groups. IZ was known for promoting Hawaiian rights and Hawaiian independence, both through his lyrics, which often stated the case for independence directly, and his life.
From the moment he was born, his parents knew that he would be special. They named him Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole, and in Hawaiian his last name translates “the fearless eye, the bold face.” During his lifetime, many referred to IZ as the "Gentle Giant" While his stature was large and imposing, his singing voice was as soft and sweet as could be. On a sad note, it was due to his larger than life size that ultimately led to his early death at age 38.
While he only graced this planet for 38 years, he left an incredible musical legacy behind him. As a member of the group "Makaha Sons" Israel recorded 21 albums, and then when he ventured out on his own in 1993, IZ went out on his own and recorded 6 solo albums.
Now as you listen to his immensely popular song again, you might appreciate it with some new perspective and understanding. Enjoy!