Millions of people are moved by a man’s passionate version of “Over the Rainbow.”

What comes to mind when you hear the song “Over the Rainbow”?
Perhaps ukulele strumming with a high-pitched ringing of the strings?

Perhaps the gentle breaking of the waves against the shore?
Or a Hawaiian singer’s warm soulful voice?
For those born after the age of the Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland’s performance of the song, this may be the only version they know – and it has persisted because of its timeless quality.

Israel Kamakawiwo’ole sang the legendary version.
The version has also seen several covers, and it may be one of the most popular songs to learn for ukulele beginners

This rendition sounded peaceful, tranquil, and hopeful. And those who have worked with IZ, as he is known in the industry, would tell you that this enthusiasm came naturally to him.

Del Beazley, a musician, can witness to this.
“In Hawaii, we talk about something called mana,” he told NPR. “Mana is like an energy that you acquire. We think it comes from the elements first, the Earth, your sky, your ocean, your God, and everything within us. And that’s what we let out when we open our lips to talk, sing, or play. But it’s his mana that distinguishes him [Israel] because it always comes out.”
IZ grew up with Beazley, who composed two of his songs.

IZ grew up with Beazley, who composed two of his songs.
They were at a graduation celebration when IZ and his brother Skippy arrived.

It was the first time Beazley had heard him sing, and everyone went silent.

Then, in 1988, a late-night phone call transformed IZ’s life as a musician.
At three a.m., Milan Bertosa received a phone call.

A customer requested that IZ record the tune.

He claimed it could wait until tomorrow, but the client refused.

“I then set up some mics, perform a short sound check, roll some tape, and the first thing he does is ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’”

He played and sang in one take, and that was the end of it.” He told NPR about it.

Bertosa then persuaded producer Jon de Mello to put the song on IZ’s solo album “Facing Future” in 1993.

With only that song, the album went on to become the best-selling Hawaiian record of all time.

He may not have lasted long in this world, but his music and spirit did.
He and his family are both tremendously overweight, and practically all of his immediate family members have died as a result of obesity-related diseases.

IZ stated that he is not afraid. He had long accepted his fate.

He told de Mello that death is only a transient state for Hawaiians who dwell in both realms.

Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole died in 1997 from respiratory failure.

His music, on the other hand, lingered on. According to Billboard, his rendition was in the charts for 541 weeks.

It began with 332 non-consecutive weeks at the top in 2011.

The version has almost 1 billion views on YouTube.

“People used to scream and cry when the mo’ior ‘king’ died in the ancient days,” Beazley tells NPR.

That’s exactly what it was.

This entire island came together to bid farewell to this one Hawaiian.

But I assure you, he would have laughed.”

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Millions of people are moved by a man’s passionate version of “Over the Rainbow.”
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