Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole (Hawaiian: pronounced [kəˌmɐkəˌvivoˈʔole]; Hawaiian for ‘”the fearless eye, the bold face”‘; May 20, 1959 – June 26, 1997), also called Bruddah Iz or IZ, was a Native Hawaiian singer-lyricist, musician, and Hawaiian sovereignty activist.
He achieved commercial success outside Hawaii when his album Facing Future was released in 1993. His medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” was released on his albums Ka ʻAnoʻi and Facing Future. It was subsequently featured in several films, television programs, and television commercials.
Kamakawiwoʻole was born at Kuakini Medical Center in Honolulu to Henry “Hank” Kaleialoha Naniwa Kamakawiwoʻole Jr. and Evangeline “Angie” Leinani Kamakawiwoʻole. The notable Hawaiian musician Moe Keale was his uncle and a major musical influence. He was raised in the community of Kaimuki, where his parents had met and married. He began playing music with his older brother Skippy and cousin Allen Thornton at the age of 11, being exposed to the music of Hawaiian entertainers of the time such as Peter Moon, Palani Vaughn and Don Ho, who frequented the establishment where Kamakawiwoʻole’s parents worked. Hawaiian musician Del Beazley spoke of the first time he heard Kamakawiwoʻole perform, when, while playing for a graduation party, the whole room fell silent on hearing him sing. Kamakawiwoʻole continued his path as his brother Skippy entered the Army in 1971 and his cousin Allen left in 1976 for the mainland.