15 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole enjoyed a global hit with his medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" before his passing in 1997. But that was just a taste of his updated traditionalism. Facing Future is Iz's warm and enveloping love song to the islands he called home, expressing his hope that Hawaii's native culture would never succumb to commercialism.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole enjoyed a global hit with his medley of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" before his passing in 1997. But that was just a taste of his updated traditionalism. Facing Future is Iz's warm and enveloping love song to the islands he called home, expressing his hope that Hawaii's native culture would never succumb to commercialism.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5

770 Ratings

One of Hawaii's Greatest Artists

moku,

This is Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's best album and arguably one the best albums in Hawaiian music. Regardless of whether you've followed Braddah Iz (as he's more affectionately known in Hawaii) from his days with the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau or if this is your first foray into Hawaiian music, this is an excellent addition to any music collection. Facing Future is composed mainly of traditional Hawaiian music with a few Jawaiian songs thrown in for good measure. Although things start off a bit somber with the opening selection, things quickly pick up in tempo with "Ka Huila Wai" and continue on with notables like "Kuhio Bay", "White Sandy Beach of Hawai'i" "Henehene Kou 'Aka", and "Kaulana Kawaihae". It's not until near the end of the album that you find the medley that Iz is best known for: "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World". Overall, the album takes you on a journey through some of Iz's life and the issues that were important to him, specifically the Hawaiian movement and native Hawaiian culture, which is poignantly reflected in the closing track "Hawai'i '78". Braddah Iz was big in life, not only physically but also spiritually, and his legacy in Hawai'i will continue on through his music. If there's only one Hawaiian album that you own, this should be it.

Subtle and Soaring

BCMystery,

Like a lot of people, I've been aware of of Iz's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" for some time. Today, I heard this album while sitting in a coffee shop. I'd planned on having a steaming cuppa joe and heading on my way -- instead, the melody of "Hawai'i '78 Introduction" captured me from the shop's sound system and I found myself sitting through the entire album. I was both enchanted and transported by music so powerful at moments it almost moved me to tears, so delightful at others that I found myself grinning at strangers. This music is both subtle and soaring, profoundly uplifting but with a melancholy edge. I couldn't get home to purchase my own copy fast enough.

About Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

The most popular entertainer in Hawaii until his tragic death in 1997, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole formed the traditional Makaha Sons as a teenager in the mid-'70s, went out on his own in more of a contemporary style by the 1990s, and released four immensely popular recordings before passing away just after the release of 1996's N Dis Life. Born in the Honolulu suburb of Kaimuki, Kamakawiwo'ole later moved to nearby Makaha. In allegiance to his new home, Israel formed the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau with brother Skippy plus Louis "Moon" Kauakahi, Sam Gray and Jerome Koko. The Makaha Sons recorded No Kristo in 1976 and released five more albums during as many years, though Skippy's death of a heart attack in 1982 came as quite a blow to his younger brother. The group soldiered on, and became Hawaii's most popular traditional group with breakout albums like 1984's Puana Hou Me Ke Aloha and its follow-up, 1986's Ho'ola.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole decided to begin recording on his own with 1990's Ka 'Ano'i, which became the most popular Hawaiian album of the year. Though he continued his solo career, by 1991 he had recorded with the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau again, and that year's Makaha Bash 3 set still more records in Hawaii, thanks in part to the single "Broken Promise." Another Makaha LP, Ho'oluana, appeared in 1992, though it was the last with Israel. His second solo effort, Facing Future, appeared in 1993, and 1995's E Ala E featured a reunited duet with Skippy, thanks to studio technology. Israel continued to win awards and sell very well with 1996's N Dis Life, but his ballooning weight problem (at times, he weighed over 750 pounds) caused his early death at the age of 38.

After his death, Iz's single "Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" charted numerous times, first in 2004 when appearances in various commercials and movies helped it climb to number 12 on Billboard's Hot Digital Tracks chart. In 2010, Europe fell under its spell as its use in commercials drove airplay on radio, and it topped the charts in both France and Switzerland while it reached number six in Austria. As of 2015, the song has sold over five-million digital copies. ~ John Bush

  • ORIGIN
    Honolulu, HI
  • GENRE
    Pop
  • BORN
    May 20, 1959

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