Israel Kamakawiwo`ole – His Life

May 20, 1959 – June 26, 1997

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(As taken from

  1. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole is born on May 20, 1959.
  2. Although Iz has been most closely associated with Makaha and Niihau, his roots are in Kaimuki, where his parents met and married, settling at 9th and Kalua streets. He grew up playing in Palolo River and going to Kaimuki Theater. He was in his early teens when the family moved to Makaha and entered the world of music. Israel and his brother Skippy formed the Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau with Louis “Moon” Kauakahi, Sam Gray and Jerome Koko. The best known line-up was Kauakahi, Izzy, John and Jerome Koko.
  3. Izzy’s brother Skippy Kamakawiwo’ole dies of a heart attack at age 28 in 1982.
  4. Izzy marries his childhood sweetheart Marlene. They soon have a daughter, Ceslieanne “Wehi.”
  5. 1985 — The Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau won Best Traditional Hawaiian Album and Group of the Year at the annual Hoku Awards ceremony.
  6. 1987 — The Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau album “Hoala” won Haku Mele, Traditional Hawaiian Album and Group of the Year Hoku awards.
  7. 1991 — Israel’s first solo album “Ka ‘Ano’i” won Hoku awards for Contemporary Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.
  8. 1992 — The Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau’s “Makaha Bash 3,” on which Israel is included, won Group of the Year and Engineering Hokus. Israel also joined Roland Cazimero, Henry Kapono and Cyril Pahinui in recording the song “Broken Promise,” which won Single of the Year.
  9. 1993 — “Ho’oluana,” by the Makaha Sons won Hoku Awards for Engineering, Haku Mele, Traditional Hawaiian Album of the Year, Group of the Year and Album of the Year. This was the last album Israel recorded with the Sons. Iz had a history of health problems and hospitalizations because of his weight, at times more than 757 pounds, which had made it difficult to tour and perform with the Sons.
  10. 1993 — “Facing Future” is recorded by a solo Iz, after 17 years performing with the Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau. The album contains less Jawaiian and more traditional Hawaiian music. However, the album is overshadowed by Hapa’s strong debut.
  11. 1994 — Voted favorite entertainer of the year by HARA and the public. Krash Kealoha suggested the public vote category.
  12. On Iz’s 1995’s album “E Ala E,” Iz is reunited through studio magic with his late brother Skippy on the title song. Iz’s EKG reading forms part of the album art.
  13. 1996 — At the Hoku Awards ceremony, Izzy was singing on stage when he was joined by his ex-bandmates, the Makaha Sons.
  14. 1997 — Izzy’s album “n Dis Life” won Album of the Year, Male Vocalist, Island Contemporary Album and Graphics awards. He was also voted Favorite Hawaiian Entertainer by the public. Mountain Apple Co. president Jon de Mello and Co-producer Ho’omalia accepted the awards for the ailing, hospitalized Iz.

List of Recordings (With The Makaha Sons)

  • “No Kristo” 1976
  • “Kahea o Keale” 1977
  • “Keala” 1978
  • “Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau” 1979
  • “Mahalo Ke Akua” 1981
  • “Puana Hou Me Ke Aloha” 1984
  • “Ho’ola” 1986
  • “Makaha Bash 3 Live” 1991
  • “Ho’oluana” 1992

List of Recordings (Solo)

  • “Ka’ano’i” 1990 – [Buy!]
  • “Facing Future” 1993 – [Buy!]
  • “E Ala E” 1995 – [Buy!]
  • “In Dis Life” 1996 – [Buy!]
  • “The Man and His Music – Iz In Concert” 1998 – [Buy!]
  • “Alone In Iz World” 2001 – [Buy!]
  • “Wonderful World” 2007 – [Buy!]

His Life | Albums | DVDs | Books | Guestbook

0 thoughts on “Israel Kamakawiwo`ole – His Life

  1. Não conhecia Israel! me apaixonei pela sua voz e suas músicas.Sua versão para Wonderful World é maravilhosa, uma das mais lindas que já ouvi.

  2. My mother travels to Hawaii every year and many years ago she brought home one of Isreal’s CD’s, I fell in love with his voice. Over the years I lost track of that disc but have recently been so excited to hear his “Over the Rainbow” on a local radio station. They play it everyday and his beautiful voice brings and immediate sense of peace and joy to my spirit.
    What a wonderful life

  3. I had been trying to find out who did this rendition of somewhere over the rainbow with no luck until today. I was so very excited to learn the artist name and then I was so very sadden to find out that he had passed away. I was looking forward to many more songs. I did go out and buy one of his CD’s today. I love to listen to this song. IZ voice is just so calm and soothing. I know he was a great and caring man.

  4. I am almost 80 years old which goes to prove this wonderful man’s music knows no age boundries. I was introduced to Iz’s music about 2 years ago by my daughter, she said, Mom, you have to hear this man–I was immideatly smitten!!! I regret that I didn’t herar of him sooner so I could have been to one of his concerts–no matter where!!Well I had a lot of his cd’s which I loved, even though I couldn’t understand athe words of a few, I still love the music–simply beautiful. This man has the most beautiful voice i have heard in a long, long time–what a loss to the world!! Anyhow, my oldest daughter, Debbie who was only 53, died on my birthday, Jan’ 17,1009, this year.We had a cd made of her whole life to play at her funeral and the three songs I requested were Iz’s and my favorites–“In This Life”–“Over The Rainbow”–and Wind Beneath My Wings.”I have this beautiful CD of two of my Favorite people on this earth–my beautiful daughter and this beautiful man whio left us with such beautiful music. I am a Fl southern gal–never been further than Alabama but this music takes me to places I can only dream of. My brother whom I loved dearly, was in the navy during the 2nd war and he was stationed in Hawaii for a while and he used to tell me how beautiful the islands were so I have always longed to go there but never had the chance–Iz helped me live my dream with his music–his memory will live on. Thank you Iz, Jean

  5. To Jean Bonnell,
    Your lengthy comment about Iz was so beautiful it brought tears to me eyes. I have just discovered Iz on Pandora and I too love his voice, so calming.

  6. even if you are not familiar with anything
    hawaiian,you have to love his voice just for
    its purity and beauty.

  7. I just discovered this wonderful voice, what a peaceful feeling he brings to me. What a terrible loss, but he leaves his music behind for us all to enjoy. Thank you.

  8. I too have just recently discovered Iz through some friends on a recent trip to Hawaii. We played his CD in our rental car while seeing the lovely sights in his homeland. Since the trip I have enjoyed listening to my own copy of the Facing Future CD. Thanks, IZ!

  9. We too are recent Iz converts. We went to Maui at the end of April and were delighted to hear Iz on the local all Hawaiian music station in our rental car. He just seeped into our soul. We found his music one day in an art store in Paia. That was it! We were hooked! We subsequently bought one more, and one more, so we went home with 4 CD’s and have since found a 5th! A day is not complete without hearing his music. I find too, that especially if I’m stressed, his music just starts playing in my head and brings such peace. He is such a wonderful ambassador of Aloha; the Hawaiian spirit. His spirit will live on for years. And too, Heaven with Iz in it will be just a little more heavenly. I look forward to meeting him.

  10. June 27,2009
    Hello I am 9 years old. My friend interduced me to this beautiful artist. I fell in love with his “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” remake. I was not aware of it being a remake until I shared it with my grandmother whom told me it was one of her favorites by “Judy Garland” She made me here it and I loved Israel kamakawiwo even more. His voice softened my heart and when I found out he was desised I was heartbroken. I hope to find his cd and buy one.

  11. Iz, I can’t wait to meet you up in heaven, buddy. As a musician, I look up to you and respect you.

  12. What ever happened to his wife and daughter? Is his daughter also musically inclined?

  13. Like so many others, I have just recently heard “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. I purchased the CD Facing Future for that song alone. I love the entire CD. What a blessing this man was. His music brings such peace to my soul.

  14. I only heard about Iz last night through a tv show, when the show finished I rushed to the computer to do a search on youtube, and to my absolute delight I found the video for “Over the rainbow”. I fell in love with his version straight away! I was saddened though, to learn that he had passed away, and I am wishing I had’ve heard of him so much sooner. I love his music and am going to see if I can get hold of his CD’s. What a musical genius.

  15. I found his name, finally, at the end of the credits of “Marilyn Hotchkiss Dancing School and Charm School” movie starring John Goodman and another man that I’ve seen before and was great but his name escapes me. I hear “Over the Rainbow” Israel’s version, on Coast to Coast radio program each night on my lovcal station. I’m nearly 70 years old and have never gone to the trouble to look any artist up before, his is such a unique blend of island accent with a Garland tune…and what a voice, I can’t wait to hear other songs he recorded during his life. My condolences to his family.

  16. Iz really softens my heart. When i am struggling with anything. i listen to somewhere over the rainbow. I am a very different 16 year old. Everyone listens to crap rap. It isnt me. Iz is me. I cant just listen to his music just once. Everytime i hear it i have to listen to it again. It is a very emotional song for me. He had so much love in his heart.

  17. I love the song that Iz does with Malani Bilyeu ; ” Lover of Mine”. It was written by Bilyeu and is beautiful and heart felt. The voices blend for such a beautiful rendition.
    Blessings to the family of Israel and Malani and to all Hawaii’s brothers and sisters.

  18. wonderful song
    Beautiful voice
    Forever remembered
    I’m glad my friend had linked me to his songs,
    or i would have missed out the chance to hear the gentle giant sing.

  19. ACKKK!IZ is dead?I didn’t know that!I just love his music…my favorite is “What a Wonderful World.May he rest in peace…

  20. i saw and heard Iz on a youtube video and instantly fell in love with him, as everyone does. So sad that he had to leave.

  21. “There once was an angel”

    Tribute to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
    by Christian Badsted

    There once was an angel,
    You didn’t see his wings,
    he walked a man on earth,
    with kindness and love,
    he gave love since birth,
    He walked Hawaii’ns cove,

    There once was an angel,
    His power was his heart,
    His voice stopped wars,
    but his life was cut short,
    he now sits by stars,
    in heaven with our god,

    There once was an angel,
    he has now left us all,
    But his spirit left behind,
    he touched all with his voice,
    Im sure he didn’t mind,
    He didn’t have a’ choice,

    There once was an angel,
    He will never be forgotten,
    He truly was a saviour,
    A’ heart to big for earth,
    You loved his behaviour,
    Light a candle on his birth,

    Rest in peace Israel Kamakawiwo’ole..

  22. I would like to thank Hawaii for allowing me to understand what is important in life,family and friends and then the music that Brother IZ gave us to enjoy .My life on the big island has taught me that the more I give I get back ten fold. When I hear brother IZ sing lover of life it makes me tear up.(sure hits my emotions to the fullest) When I was young I had a simple life and now have returned to realy appreciate loving life and sharing…Aloha

  23. I have visisted hawaii twice prior to that I had never been out of australia the culture and people made me feel wonderful. My brother really loved somewhere over the rainbow from fifty first dates we found out that israel sang it and I began trying to find where I could buy his cd. I’m so happy I found where I could purchase his music. What a beautiful voice he certainly touched my heart. But I was very sad when I read about his passing god doesn’t leave angels on earth long does he.

    Dawn 2nd january 2010

  24. I love this voice! His vocals seem to be directly connected to his special soul – truly transformational. I wish I had known Iz, his family, and his music earlier. He is one of just a few artists that will be remembered for a very long time.

  25. The words escape me when thinking of Iz, just shake my head with amazement . First heard over the rainbow at my husband wake when he passed and never knew what an impact his music would make on my life. It reminds me of the love I had for my husband, soothes my inner being soul when things get rough hope to see him n the after life it is a shame I didn’t know this talented man in this one

  26. Wow. I am touched…. So deeply. I have just heard of Izzy today. I’ve heard “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in 50 First Dates a few years ago and the song made me cry. I never bothered to look up the song or the artist. But now, I am blessed with the opportunity to see and hear and feel this song… I was feeling down and took most things for granted. But when I heard this song, it made me feel nostalgic. I realize that everything around me is something that people wish could see, and never could. Also, it brings me to tears right now, because this song reminds of my grandfather, may he rest in peace. March 16 was his two year reminder. Like almost everything, I took him for granted… Grandpa, I can’t wait to see you over the rainbow…♥♥♥ I love you…

  27. i realy love his song over the rainbow and i love his voice your realy amising. I never for get u. Even u far far away now im my heart u still here inside…


  29. Like so many of these comments, I too have just discovered IZ. Travelling and working in Northern Queensland Aust, I heard Somewhere over the rainbow on a local radio station and just had to find out more about this version of the song and the Artist. Thank heavens for youtube in know time I had found IZ. The sadest thing was to find out he has passed away. What a wonderful legacy he has left behind in him music

  30. its sad for me he died a year afer i was born….everytime of his birth day i do somting to help mankind….i wil never forget u iz….RIP

  31. ur sons tuced my heart and when i grow up ill tell my kids about ur songs and hopefully will see the joy in ur songs as i have….may ur soul and songs live for ever

  32. he his the most best singer i have ever herd its sad how he is gone but he is in our hearts and he will always be in our hearts he has the voice of an angel r.i.p israel kamakawiwo’ole we will miss u

  33. I had always loved the Over the Rainbow song, but just recently heard IZ’s version this year and didn’t know who sang it until this week when a friend posted the song on Facebook. I had never heard of IZ and was so excited to see the video and finally know who sang such a beatuiful version of this song! But then was saddened when I realized halfway throught it that IZ had passed away when they were showing ashes being poured into the oceans of Hawwaii. I had to watch it several times just to let it sink into my head that such a wonderful man with the soothing voice was gone, and I had never gotten the chance to know him before he passed.I have been to Hawaii twice in my lifetime and fell in love with the beauty and serenity and the love of the people there. And I saw many a rainbow while I was there, both times. One was almost touching the building below the high tower hotel I was staying in. I wanted to reach out and touch it! I wish I had heard of and know IZ when I was there. I would have love to have heard him sing. His song melts my heart and I listen to it as much as I can. yes, and someday I too hope to meet IZ, somewhere, over the rainbow, in Heaven.

  34. We lost a beautiful man when we lost IZ He will be missed by many God gave this man a beautiful voice that has blessed many lives.I had heard his music alot but did not know who sang the songs, I am buying the cd’s now that I know who sings them, I believe he had the most angelic voice I had heard in a long time. May God please his family.

  35. I’ve always loved “somewhere over the rainbow” but no other version of it compares to the way Iz sings it. It always moves me so much and brings me to uncontrollable tears when I hear it. But they are tears of joy. My 8 year old son is now practicing it for a school concert. I know it will be beautiful. Iz will be smiling down at him. 🙂

  36. Iz moves hearts…he’s a gift, a big Hawaiian gift.. first to his family, God Bless them, then to all his Hawaiian brothers and sisters…but he’s reached across the oceans and expanses of earth,time, and race to teach us and give us ALL his joy and passion…he’s left a legacy that we all love and that will live forever… Brother Izzy, you’re a gift to us on earth…and like your music has taught us, you are a gift somewhere else now…your spirit is strong, every lasting, and will live in every heart blessed to discover you for ages to come.

    I’ve never stopped listening to Izzy…often in tears…there is a lot more to brother Iz than “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World”..and “Sandy Beaches” and “In This Life” and on and on….every time I listen to one of the 5 CDs I picked up, I learn still more about his Hawaiian heritage (and my wife’s)…more about love, more of brother Iz’s passion for mankind and his islands…I feel the pain he felt and it takes a gift to communicate that in a song.. .. he teaches us forgiveness vs. hatred…he teaches us to make peace…I hope we all learn to love life and who we are as much as brother Iz does. Even with the many trials life dealt Izzy, he maintained his unflappable passion for life and joy–what an example… he’s at peace with who and what he will always be…a Hawaiian and to us he’ll always be a legend… thank you Izzy, sing on…forever and ever, Respectfully, Howard

  37. What more can one say after reading through all the woderful and sincere comments of all the above people? “WOW, WHAT A MAN, WHAT A REMARKABLE INSPIRATIONAL MAN” It seems to me that everybody who has been touched by the extraordinary voice and vibrant humour of IZZY truely share the same sentiment as I do about the impact that his music has on our souls. I also only discovered his music about two years ago when I heard it playing on a local TV station during the festive season, and,”wow, did it take my breath away?” I then just couldn’t rest befor I could get hold of his music and am a true fan eversince. Yes we all regret not being able to have met this great man, but I sure know that the role his music plays in our lives today is worth a great deal. To the people of Hawaii, he is one of you, walked amongst you and lived amonst you. how fortunate you are to call this empire your very own. KEEP HIS CANDLE BURNING.

  38. He must of been the king of kings to those who knew & loved him……
    My husband and I just got married 11/22/10 on Maui…we asked the minister who was the singer to include the IZZY song “OVER THE RAINBOW” I SO LOVE THIS SONG (perfection) brings tears to my eyes always ……Izzy will always be a part of me for that.
    I wish I had the chance to meet him.

  39. This song has been attracting my attention ( over the rainbow ) for some years now and I never did catch the singers name. Amazing grace.

  40. Already did this once, and don’t want to appear insincere, but it is worth repeating, it is truly my loss to have discovered the man behind the beautiful music after he was no longer with us. I truly feel for his family. His brother died first then him. He leaves a wife and daughter. I am so very sorry for your loss. Words seem so hollow.

  41. I heard the song “Over the Rainbow” on a tv show also, but what touch me and still makes me sad and happy was his incredible talent!! I just lost my sister and hearing this wonderful talent has gave me such peace!! I pray his family has that same feeling.. Thank you for shareing him with the world! He is truly an angel in Heaven singing!!

  42. I found IZ song truly by harzard. It was a godsend. His voice is so soothing to the soul. He lifts me to a much better place.
    Over the Rainbow and What a wonderful World have me hopping for better things to come. Now I can`t seem to get enough of his magical voice, I look up on You Tube all the time to see those amazing clips. I just wished I had found him sooner. With a sunset at your back and the stars in your eyes, you are in a much better place. May we all get to meet you one day in your paradise. Thank you for the magic, the legacy will go on. Mahalo!

  43. Truly a beautiful voice. By all accounts also a beautiful spirit.

    Thank you for continuing his legacy by promoting his music.

    I especially liked (& like) White sandy beach of Hawaii and commend it to those who wish to listen

  44. I was introduced to the song Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World mix not long ago when he was working on the computer using his phone for music. I just loved it and he played it for me often. I went online google to hear it last week and my son came in and said, “It is the wrong one”. So, he found Israel and I saw the video. I was shocked that he had died, but with his physical being, it is impossible for him to live a long life. I am so sad that nothing was done about his weight. There are so many procedures out there to help people like him. My question remains, “WHY”… Such a talented, loving man, with such a soothing voice. He certainly did make a difference ….. Now, I listen to him daily –

  45. Just wanted to say that listening to Israel’s voice makes me be believe in a better world now, and in the hereafter! It is amazing what a legacy this great singer has left. I, like many other’s wish I had been acquainted with his music years ago! R.I.P. brother!

  46. i have always loved the song “somewhere over the rainbow'”
    my grandson introduced the Iz version to me.
    it is the most beautiful i have ever listen to.
    i love all of the Iz music.
    like others i wish i had known of him before.
    his music gives me a wonderful happy feeling.

  47. Just found about him today and I researched his whole life, this man is a benchmark of what a man should be, his over the rainbow song is off the hook and wonderful life video is just incredible

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