The story behind Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole and his hit song ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’

A song can bring forth a number of emotions, feelings and past experiences. It can be a bridge between what we want and what we get. Only a few singers, however, can pull the strings of emotion. If you hear them, you can only be entranced. These singers do not need many musical instruments as well. Only one instrument accompanying their beautiful voice will do.

In the light of high standards, Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole stands tall. The moment you hear his rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, you get transported to a beautiful tropical island drenched by abundant sunlight and pure, unadulterated love. The person behind the singer is also as lovely as the song he sings, with Israel having touched a million lives with a number of advocacy projects in Hawaii. The positive effects of many such advocacy projects are still being felt to this day.

When Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole was alive, he was called a “gentle giant”. This nickname was given to him due to his huge stature. If you knew him, you will notice his large build the first time you see him. Once you hear his voice, you will forget his huge stature, his soul-drenched rendering of Hawaiian songs easily overshadowing his oversized body.

Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole died in 1997. He was only 38 years old. The reason for his demise was his obese body. His large girth made him unfit. Israel was found to be afflicted with respiratory illness and cardiac problems. All these problems combined made him sick and he eventually died at a young age, two years shy of 40 years.

Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole made a few videos of his songs. Many of them were set in beautiful tropical settings. A common theme for his videos were rainbows. They were superimposed over the mountainous terrain of Hawaii. Then the camera panned down to Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole strumming his ukulele. Bystanders listening to his music in the video were clearly entranced by his mellifluous voice. Another common theme was the waves lapping the Hawaiian sea-shore. Israel was seen to relax floating on the ocean waves, laughing at the camera or playing the Hawaiian drums on the beach. There were shots of him in contemplative poses as well. He had donned a flowery hat, t-shirt and sunglasses and giving soul stirring renditions of love in his enchanting voice.

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