by: Ferell Aubre
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole exploded onto the music scene with his rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” though well-known in his home state of Hawaii, and through his early recordings, which received countless awards and charting on the Billboard charts, tragically the beloved artist passed away at the age of 38, in 1997.
With the release of The Best of Israel Kamakawiwo`ole, it offers a collection of well-chosen tunes that sheds a welcomed light on this prolific recording artist and his endearing organic sound. A best of collection would not be complete without his smash hit and in step with that idea “Over the Rainbow,” is the first cut in this first-rate collection. Each cut resonates this gentle giant’s soft endearing style that warms your heart from the first notes.
The delicate and poignant “Hawaii 78,” highlights the state of commercialization that has ravaged the beautiful island of Hawaii, the lyrics tell of a king and queen if they saw how modern civilization has built highways on sacred lands. IZ traverses from English to his native Hawaiian language on this tune with great result, his vocals truly reach the heart of the matter with lasting effect.
A large ensemble string orchestrated version of “What a Wonderful World,” is perfect bookend to the well-known rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” and equally so, Kamakawiwo`ole is in beautiful form. In reading IZ’s biography there seemed to be a recognition that his mortality was inevitable, this immediacy can be heard on his recordings, his desire to create something lasting for his family, to ensure his legacy to take care of them after he had passed and that each moment would be imprinted long after his earthly-self walked the earth.
The collection features 16 songs from various recordings meticulously chosen to best represent Kamakawiwo’ole vast diversity of catalog. This is a welcomed “Best Of,” collection well worth every dollar to own. A man who may have only been her for 38 years, but has left a legacy for generations to enjoy.