The true meaning of being Hawaiian; simply known as Braddah Iz. A man whose humbleness, pride and music touched and inspired the entire world. The gentle giant who displayed his love of the land and the Kama’aina of Hawai’i. A man who lived the Aloha Spirit.
Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole, known to most as “Braddah Iz” was born on May 20, 1959 on the island of O’ahu and grew up in the area of Palolo. He first picked up an ukulele and began playing music at the young age of 11. As a teenager Israel’s family moved to the town of Makaha. Family and friends say that Israel was a very kolohe kid, always causing mischief. Uncle Moe Keale mentions how rotten and spoiled Israel was as a youngster. Still, he was loved by all around him.
Oahu’s west side is where Israel, his brother Skippy, hanai brother Sam Gray, Moon Kauakahi and Jerome Koko form the group “The Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau” in 1976. The legendary Hawaiian music group produced hits as Take A Walk In The Country, White Sandy Beach, Hawaii 78 and many traditional Hawaiian classics.
In the 1980s Braddah Iz parted ways with the Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau. His career took a different path and in 1990 released his first CD as a solo artist entitled “Ka’ano’i”. Making a name for himself, Israel received awards for Contemporary Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year from the Hawai’i Academy of Recording Arts.
It was at this time in Israel’s life when his kolohe ways started giving way to a humble and inspiring personality. So proud to show the true meaning of being Hawaiian and spreading the Aloha Spirit. His ‘ohana and close friends noticed the effect he had on people as he spoke with keiki (children) and kupuna’s (elderly).
The world learned what Hawai’i had already known in 1993. Israel’s second solo project “Facing Future” was released. It featured the medley “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” which would become known around the world. The song was featured in Hollywood films You’ve Got Mail, Finding Forrester, Meet Joe Black, 50 First Dates and in an episode of ER. It has also been featured in etoys and various other worldwide commercials. Facing Future also contained Hawaiian favorites Hawai’i 78, White Sandy Beach of Hawai’i and Maui Hawaiian Sup’pa Man. In 1994 Braddah Iz was voted favorite entertainer of the year by the Hawai’i Academy of Recording Arts.
Released in 1995 “E Ala E” featured hits such as title track E Ala E, Hele on to Kauai, Ulili E and Kamalani. Shortly after, “N Dis Life” was released in 1996 and featured inspiring meles Starting All Over Again, In This Life and ‘Opae E. A year later in 1997, Iz was again honored by the Hawai’i Academy of Recording Arts at the Annual Na Hoku Hanohano awards for Male Vocalist of the Year, Favorite Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, and Island Contemporary Album of the Year. Due to declining health, Iz watched the awards ceremony from a hospital room.
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole endured several hospitalizations and died of weight-related respiratory illness on June 26, 1997 at 12:18 am at the young age of 38. The Hawai’i State Flag flew at half-mast throughout the day. Iz lay in state at the Capitol building in Honolulu. He was only the third person and the only non-politician in Hawaiian history to have this honor bestowed. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s dream of taking a voyage on the Hawaiian outrigger canoe Hokule’a was honored, his ashes were scattered into Hawaiian waters at Makua Beach. The loving husband and father is survived by wife, Marlene and daughter, Wehe.
Teaching us all the meaning of being Hawaiian and living the Aloha Spirit. A Hawaiian man whose humbleness, pride, love and music inspired the people of Hawai’i.
Released in 1998, “Iz – The Man And His Music” CD is somewhat of a tribute to Braddah Iz which contains 16 cut classics previously recorded live.
“Alone in Iz World” was released in September 2001. The CD contained new arrangements of Israel’s past songs along with new releases that were recorded, but never released previously. New songs included Mona Lisa, Hanohano Wale No Na Cowboy and Ka Huila Wai.