HOUSTON – You may not know his name, but you have likely heard his voice. Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole died in 1997, but not before giving the world an amazing gift. His unique medley of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” is as iconic as it is beautiful. It’s been played in movies, commercials, and almost a billion times on YouTube.
The song was originally recorded in an unplanned recording session at 3 a.m. in 1988. It was eventually re-recorded and officially released to the public. While it’s just one song from his 20+ year music career, it’s the one that’s most-recognizable.
IZ enjoyed some mainstream success late in his career, but it was after his death that “Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World” skyrocketed in popularity. Sadly, he never got see how important his voice really was.
IZ was born May 20, 1959. Google did a “doodle” in his honor of what would have been his 61st birthday.