Ukulele and Hawaii, a combination beyond the rainbow

Many songs that remain in people’s memories are reinvented in the hands of some composers, but very few achieve the success that Over the rainbow in particular has achieved, after this Hawaiian musician made some arrangements and interpreted it in a way so particular.


It is easy to imagine that in the repertoire of the best ukulele in the world , the chords of the well-known melodies Over the rainbow and What a wonderful world have to be included, but in the style of the skilled ukulele player Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole. An iconic composer originally from Hawaii, who using music as a medium managed to promote the values ​​and keep the culture of his country alive.


Musical trajectory

The history of this character despite having been very short, since he died at just 38 years old, managed to stand out not only in his country, but also transcended borders, reaching a notable global projection, even making his debut as number 1 in 2001. on the Billboard chart; But his musical career did not emerge overnight, it was a process that began at the age of 11 when he began his musical education. Later, together with his brother Skippy, Jerome Koko, Louis Kauakahi and Sam Gray formed a group that would be called Makaha Children of Ni’ihau, where they experimented with different musical styles, but always remaining under the influence of typical Hawaiian music. The group’s first album was titled No Kristo and was released in 1976 and although at first they never imagined it,

The first solo album that the interpreter produced was known in 1990 with the title of Ka’ano’i and with this project he won an award from the Honolulu Academy of Arts, under the category of best contemporary album. But this would not be considered his best musical work until the arrival of Facing the future in 1993, which includes two versions of songs already known, but which managed to greatly capture the public’s attention. On his own he managed to collect 4 albums, the last being In Disss Life released in 1996 about a year before his death on June 26, 1997.



An unrivaled performance

If we talk about his song Over the rainbow, we must start from the fact that in its original version it would be known for being included in the soundtrack of the movie The Wizard of Oz in 1939, winner of the Oscar for best original song. Although, from its origin it was an acclaimed song, the truth is that we will probably find that in our days it is much better known in the voice of the Hawaiian than in the Judy Garland, who interpreted it for the film. The arrangements were included by IZ, as the singer and musician is also known, they added a joyful and rhythmic touch, also with a very easy to follow by the audience, who could now sing it without the difficulty of the tones so treble in which it had been composed. In addition, listening to it, you cannot stop imagining the paradisiacal landscape of Hawaii,

However, this is not the only success that the interpreter would once again launch to fame, as we cannot fail to mention that in his voice, the song What a wonderful world, which was originally performed by Louis Armstrong in 1967, took on new life . Some think that it was due to the artist’s unique voice timbre, which can be described as soft and velvety, with a well controlled emission of both low and high tones that gave it a very pleasant polyphony. But others are of the opinion that the contrast that your ukulele gives to the melody cannot be ignored which makes it so appealing. 

Whatever the reason, the truth is that on YouTube we can find more than 700 million visits for the song of Over the rainbow, and it continues to add followers, which makes us think that it remains even today among the most sought after topics on the net .


Obesity the fight of your life

One of the most painful episodes in the artist’s life is probably his continuous fight against obesity, since he weighed 344 kilograms with a height of 1.88 m, which is why many knew him as the Gentle Giant. This problem was not only a difficulty that he faced daily in the most everyday and simple aspects, but a condition was affecting his health. In 1982 he had to say goodbye to his brother Skippy because he suffered from the same disease and as a result suffered a heart attack. This made him aware that death would be something that could happen to him at any time, which led him to express on several occasions that he knew where he was going due to his health problem, although he also mentioned not being afraid of death. 





Although IZ does not continue with us, his legacy is undeniable and we can find that his musical compositions participate in films such as You Know Joe Black, as well as in television series and other feature films. In addition, other more current projects such as the cute Pixar short film Lava, which is included in the film Intensamente.



The departure of Israel was deeply felt by his country, an example of this was that the flag was placed at half mast in state buildings, while his body was veiled in the Capitol in Funafuti. In addition, it is estimated that the ceremony organized in his honor was attended by around 10,000 people who gathered to say goodbye. Even today he is remembered as a promoter of the independence of his archipelago.


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