One day I would love to shoot a documentary on this great entertainer and his family's story.
I produced this video clip as my tribute and loving memory to this great man and entertainer and to his loving Wife: Marlene Kamakawiwo'ole and daughter: Ceslianne Wehekealake'alekupuna Ah Lo ("Wehi")
Artist: Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole
Song: Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Writer: Edgar Yipsel "Yip" Harburg
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All Rights Reserved to the Artist, Composer and Management
Video FX Special Effects: Skip Film Productions
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Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was a popular entertainer and singer in Hawai'i until his death at the age of 38 in 1997.
His voice became famous outside Hawaii when his album Facing Future was released in 1993. His medley of "Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" was subsequently featured in several films, television programs, and television advertisement commercials.
Kamakawiwoʻole was born at Kuakini Hospital in Honolulu to Henry Kaleialoha Naniwa Kamakawiwoʻole, Jr., and Evangeline Leinani Kamakawiwoʻole. The notable Hawaiian musician Moe Keale was his uncle. 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 Israel play, when, while playing for a graduation party, the whole room fell silent on hearing him. Israel continued his path as his brother Skippy entered the Army in 1971 and cousin Allen parted ways in 1976 for the mainland.
In his early teens, he studied at Upward Bound (UB) of the University of Hawaii at Hilo and his family moved to Mākaha. There he met Louis "Moon" Kauakahi, Sam Gray, and Jerome Koko. Together with his brother Skippy they formed the Makaha Sons of Niʻihau. A part of the Hawaiian Renaissance, this talented Hawaiian band's blend of contemporary and traditional styles gained in popularity as they toured Hawaii and the continental United States, releasing fifteen successful albums. Israel's aim was to make music that stayed true to the typical sound of traditional Hawaiian music. During that time period the songs that people associated with Hawaii weren't authentic or traditional sounding songs.
The Makaha Sons of Niʻihau recorded No Kristo in 1976 and released four more albums, including Kahea O Keale, Keala, Makaha Sons Of Niʻihau and Mahalo Ke Akua. In 1982, Kamakawiwoʻole's brother, Skippy, died at age 38 of a heart attack related to obesity. In that same year, Kamakawiwoʻole married his childhood sweetheart Marlene. Soon after, they had a daughter whom they named Ceslie-Ann "Wehi".
The group became Hawaii's most popular modern traditional group with breakout albums 1984's Puana Hou Me Ke Aloha and its follow-up, 1986's Hoʻola. Kamakawiwoʻole's last recorded album with the group was 1991's Hoʻoluana. It remains the group's top-selling CD.
In 1997, Kamakawiwoʻole was again honored by HARA at the Annual Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards for Male Vocalist of the Year, Favorite Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, and Island Contemporary Album of the Year. He watched the awards ceremony from a hospital room.
Throughout his life, Kamakawiwoʻole was morbidly obese and at one point weighed 767 pounds (348 kg; 54.8 st) standing 6-foot-2-inch (1.88 m) tall. He endured several hospitalizations because of health problems caused by his obesity. Beset with respiratory, heart and other medical problems, he died at the age of 38 in Queen's Medical Center at 12:18 a.m. on June 26, 1997. Kamakawiwoʻole was survived by his widow, Marlene Kamakawiwoʻole, and their daughter, Ceslie-Ann "Wehi".
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. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean at Mākua Beach on July 12, 1997. On September 20, 2003, hundreds paid tribute to Kamakawiwoʻole as a bronze bust of the revered singer was unveiled at the Waianae Neighborhood Community Center on Oʻahu. The singer's widow, Marlene Kamakawiwoʻole, and sculptor Jan-Michelle Sawyer were present for the dedication ceremony.