Somewhere, over the rainbow: who has never been seduced by this song, sung by Judy Garland in 1939, in the musical film "The Wizard of Oz"? 80 years later, this sweet song still resounds and continues to be taken up by many artists, but also in the cinema. But the most touching story of this song would certainly be the one with Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, the Hawaiian ukulele singer.
The story of a Hawaiian ukulele player nicknamed Iz
From his real name Israel Ka'ano'i Kamakawiwo'ole, Iz was a Hawaiian artist who only had his splendid voice and his ukulele to seduce the world. He is reminiscent of the demi-god Maui from the animated film “Moana, the Legend at the End of the World”. It's a legend about the Hawaiian archipelago. Iz was born in 1959 in O'Ahu, an island of the Archipelago and spent his childhood in a community in Kaimuki. Growing up, Iz struggled with being overweight until he hit the 340kg mark for his 90 meter. Obesity was fatal to him as he suffered from severe heart failure. He died on his hospital bed on June 26, 1997, at the age of 38. It was his brother who taught him to play the ukulele and it was for him a kind of launching pad for his talents as a singing musician. Early in his career he was part of The Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau and they released their debut album in 1976. In 1990 he went solo and released his debut album "Ka`ano`i". . Since then, he has accumulated prestigious awards from the Hawai`i Academy of Recording Arts (HARA): best artist, best singer, album of the year, etc. His fame spread to the Americas with the release of other hit albums: "E Ala E" in 1995, "N Dis Life" in 1996 and his 1993 album "Facing Future" was certified gold. . Shortly before dying, at the hospital, he was still able to follow a HARA ceremony on television where he received the title of singer of the year.
The post-mortem success of his medley Somewhere over the rainbow/What a wonderful world
In his album “Facing Future”, released in 1993, appeared the medley “Somewhere over the Rainbow / What a wonderful world” in ukulele version. In 1990, "Over the rainbow" was already in his album, but in another version. It is a revival of the classics that will mark its history. After his death, around early 2011, the success of the album was worldwide. In France alone, Iz's posthumous album was number one in the Top 50 and the Hawaiian version of the hit "Over the rainbow" was playing on repeat in all the major radio stations in France. It was the Universal record company, through its Mercury label, which bought the exploitation rights from Mountain Apple Company Inc. It was the latter who managed the work of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. The Mercury label continues to write Iz's story by releasing other albums. Either way, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's post-mortem success continues judging by the video's nearly 850 million views on the Mountain Apple Company's official YouTube channel.