Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was featured on a Google Doodle on Wednesday to honor the month of May which is Asian Pacific Heritage Month and also Kamakawiwo’ole’s birthday.

Kamakawiwo’ole is best known for his rendition of “Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World.”

Google Doodle is where different artists create a unique take on the Google logo in order to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, celebrities, artists or any other type of influential person. 

In the Google Doodle description, Kamakawiwo’ole is described as a “native Hawaiian ʻukulele player, singer-songwriter, and activist,” and then it went on to say, “through his joyful songs and lifelong advocacy for the islands’ values and culture, Kamakawiwo`ole has been widely referred to as the “Voice of Hawai`i.” 

“Late one night in 1988, Israel sat down in a Honolulu studio, closed his eyes, and in a single take, sang an emotional `ukulele-backed version of the classic song, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ Little did he know, this recording—which serves as the soundtrack of today`s video Doodle—was destined to become an international phenomenon,” the description said.  

The artist of the doodle Sophie Diao discussed the process she went through when making her creation. She said, “my goal was to make an animated video about Israel’s life and legacy as a musician that would complement the relaxed and optimistic tone of the song. Stylistically, I wanted it to feel gentle and loose and for it to all flow together. I tried to depict scenes that reflected who Israel was as a person and places in Hawai`i that were important to him.”

Kamakawiwo’ole was born in 1959 in Honolulu, Hawaii. However, he traces his roots back to the island of Ni’ihau. Kamakawiwo’ole was part of a musical group with his brother called The Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau because he launched his solo career in 1993. Kamakawiwo’ole died in June 1997.

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