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      Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

      Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

      Highest Rated: Not Available

      Lowest Rated: Not Available

      Birthday: May 20, 1959

      Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

      Native Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was born on May 20, 1959 in Honolulu, Hawaii just a few months before the territory became the 50th US State. His uncle, Moe Keale, was an expert ukulele player and had an impact on Kamakawiwo'ole's musical upbringing. Raised in the Kaimuki neighborhood of Honolulu, his parents worked at a nightclub where he would get up on stage and perform with his ukulele as young as 10 years old. His family moved to the countryside when he was a teen. There, Kamakawiwo'ole and his brother Skippy formed the band Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau with Louis Kauakahi, Sam Gray, and Jerome Koko. The group sought to connect with their native Hawaiian culture and language, shying away from tourist favorites and performing more traditional melodies. The Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau produced 21 albums over 20 years and were popular around the Hawaiian islands with Kamakawiwo'ole's striking voice and charisma making him a standout in the group. Kamakawiwo'ole embarked on a solo career in the late 1980s, releasing his debut solo album, "Ka'ano'i," in 1990. However, it was his second album, "Facing Future" (1993), that would eventually launch him to international fame. Among his many accolades on the islands, he was named favorite entertainer of the year by the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts (HARA) in 1994 and 1997. Kamakawiwo'ole struggled with severe health issues related to his weight his whole life and received the honors from HARA in 1997 from a hospital bed. At 38 years old, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole died of respiratory failure on June 26, 1997. Tragically, he never lived to see his international success. His most popular song, "Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World" began to appear on television commercials and movie soundtracks in the late 1990s. Kamakawiwo'ole's voice immediately resonated with American mainland listeners. When the posthumous album "Alone in Iz World" (2001) was released, it debuted at #1 on the Billboard World Chart and made it on the US Billboard Top 200. Reaching the international stage, his earlier album "Facing Future" (1993) saw a resurgence. By 2005, it became the first certified platinum Hawaiian album and the best-selling album in Hawaiian history.