Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World by Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole
“Excuse me young man, what is the name of the song that you are playing?” I was asked this question this past weekend and seem to be asked every time I play “Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole. It’s a great choice for cocktail/dinner music and has also become quite popular during the wedding ceremony as the processional/recessional song.
For those of you that are not familiar with the song, it’s a beautiful medley blending the two songs “Over the Rainbow”, originally performed by Judy Garland for “The Wizard of Oz” and “What a Wonderful World”, made famous by Louis Armstrong. The artist, Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole, better known simply as IZ, effortlessly whispers the song as if he is singing a lullaby as he gently strums his ukulele. Check out the video at YouTube.com.
IZ was a Hawaiian musician who gained national recognition in 1993 with the release of his album “Facing Future”, containing the now popular aforementioned medley. The album debuted at #25 on Billboard Magazine’s Top Pop Catalogue chart. On October 26, 2005, “Facing Future” became Hawaii’s first certified platinum album, selling more than a million CDs in the United States. Since then, the song has been featured in several films, television shows and commercials and continues to attract attention.