Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole (Hawaiian pronuncination: [kəˌmɐkəˌvivoˈʔole], “The Fearless Eyed”), May 20, 1959 – June 26 1997, was a Hawaiian musician, entertainer, and sovereignty activist. His medley “Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” is probably the most famous piece in his work.
Being a very talented Ukulele player and being skilled at combining different genres in his music (such as jazz and reggae) Kamakawiwo’ole had and still has a strong influence on Hawaiian music.
Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” was featured in the movies K-Pax, Meet Joe Black, Finding Forrester, Son of the Mask, 50 First Dates, Fred Claus and IMAX: Hubble 3D. It was also featured on TV series like ER, American Dad!, Scrubs, Cold Case, Glee, South Pacific, LOST, Storm Chasers, and the UK (original) version of Life on Mars.
He died at the age of 38 in 1997 and was the third person in Hawaiian history to have had his coffin to lay in state in the state capitol building in Honolulu. Approximately 10 000 people attended his funeral and when his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean thousands of fans were gathered at Mākua Beach to bid him farewell (this is also on the video).