Back around 2001... I was working on some contracts and got sent to Oahu to do some work for the Navy. I was poking around the Hotel gift shop as the only customer on my first free weekend and got stopped cold... listening to the song that was playing. I went to a bored young Hawaiian kid at the counter and asked about what was playing. He lit up and proceeded to educate me.
This was my introduction to "IZ" or know by his Hawaiian name "Israel Kamakawiwo`ole".
In Hawaii, he is considered a national treasure. The Hawaii state flag flew at half-staff on July 10, 1997, the day of Kamakawiwo'ole's funeral. His ashes were scattered off the shoreline near his home.
Here on the mainland, IZ's music made its first splash when they played "Somewhere over the Rainbow"' as the closing song of the last episode for the TV series "ER"
"Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" reached #12 on Billboard's Hot Digital Tracks chart the week of January 31, 2004 (for the survey week ending January 18, 2004). It passed the 2 million paid downloads mark in the USA by September 27, 2009, and then sold 3 million in the USA as of October 2, 2011.
And as of October 2014, the song had sold over 4.2 million digital copies.
In addition, the song holds the distinction of being the longest-leading number one hit on any of the Billboard song charts, having spent 185 weeks at number one on the publication's World Digital Songs chart.
Here is IZ singing the song "Kaleohano" in his native language.
This was the song that first stopped me "cold" that day.
I know not everyone knows Hawaiian, but sit back and listen anyway.