Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 20

Hawaiian Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (say it like it's spelled) brought the music of his people to the attention of the world in his time on Earth. Like the land for which he was named, Israel sang and spoke about reclaiming the land of his people for his fellow native Hawaiians. He first got notice in Mahaka Sons of Ni'iHau, a band he started with his brother in the 80's. In the 90's, he released several solo albums, to massive acclaim, before his passing in 1997.

His most famous recording is a cover medley, inserting "What a Wonderful World" into the lyrics of "Over the Rainbow". Recorded for his 1993 album 'Facing Futures', Israel's version persists, long after his passing. It's become a turn-to song for sentimental TV commercials and wistful movie scenes (Meet Joe Black, 50 First Dates, Fred Claus,...) The song anchors three of Israel's best-selling albums ('Futures' is the only Platinum album by a Hawaiian artist) and is on its way to becoming the preferred performance of "Over the Rainbow" (if American Idol auditions are any indication.)
So, here's Brudda Iz, and his signature on the song:

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