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Image of Earth showing Southern Africa and Madagascar with Tropical Cyclone Joalene in the Indian Ocean. It was composed from data taken by the Suomi satellite on 9 April 2015.

Composite image by Stuart Gary
NASA/NOAA
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If he would be alive today,
Mr. Israel Kamakawiwoʻole would complete 56 years old.

Israel "Bruddah IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole was born on May 20, 1959, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Israel began playing music at age 11, and released his first solo album, 'Ka'ano'i' in 1990. He died in 1997 at age 38 of respiratory problems brought on by his morbid obesity. Despite his short life, his gentle ukulele playing and hauntingly beautiful voice have already made him a musical legend.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was already popular in Hawaii when he burst onto the world music scene in 1993 with his album 'Facing Future.' The album shot to number one on the Billboard World Music charts, and in Hawaii, Iz became a bona fide star. 'Facing Future' has become the best-selling Hawaiian album of all time. 'Facing Future' contained the song that would eventually become most associated with him: his medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World."

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (from The Wizard of Oz) and Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" is almost impossibly beautiful, and has been used in many tv shows and movies, including 'ER', 'Scrubs', '50 First Dates', 'Meet Joe Black', and 'Finding Forrester.' To date the song has sold over 4.2 million digital copies as of October 2014.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was a staunch advocate for Hawaiian independence and Hawaiian cultural and environmental issues. Some of his lyrics even spoke on the topic of Hawaiian sovereignty. Kamakawiwo'ole used the ukulele to promote awareness of his belief of a second-class status pushed onto the natives by the tourist industry.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole died in 1997 at the age of 38. He had suffered from morbid obesity his entire life, topping 750 pounds at one point. He died in the middle of the night of respiratory failure. He was laid in honor in Hawaii's Capitol building, and his ashes were later scattered into the ocean. He left behind his wife and young teenaged daughter.

The Hawaii state flag flew at half-staff on July 10, 1997, the day of Kamakawiwoʻole's funeral. His koa wood coffin lay in state at the state capitol building in Honolulu. He was the third person in Hawaiian history to be awarded this honor, and the only one who was not a government official. Approximately ten thousand people attended the funeral. Thousands of fans gathered as his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean at Mākua Beach on July 12, 1997.

#IsraelKamakawiwoole  #Inmemoryof
#WorldMusic  #90sMusic
#FolkMusic  #SomewhereOverTheRainbow
#Ukulele  #Hawaii
#Music  #OS4L
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