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Google honors Hawaiian artist known for ‘Over the Rainbow’ on his 61st birthday

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole died in 1997 at age 38
Credit: Google

ST. LOUIS — Google is known for honoring people on its homepage.

The search engine is honoring Israel Kamakawiwo'ole on May 20 in honor of what would be his 61st birthday. The Hawaiian singer-songwriter is known for his beloved rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Google said it also featured him in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage month in the U.S.

He died in 1997 at age 38.  

Google wrote on its Google Doodle page that late one night in 1988, Kamakawiwo'ole 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.

“But Israel is so much more than one song; with his band and successful solo career, he redefined popular Hawaiian music through his own unique style and spread his love for the islands around the world.

Thank you, Israel, for providing the soundtrack for Hawai`i and for continuing to move hearts around the world through your music,” Google wrote.

According to cnet.com, Kamakawiwo'ole’s rendition of the song reached as high as No. 12 on Billboard’s Hot Digital Tracks chart. It also appeared on the soundtracks of several movies, including 50 First Dates and Meet Joe Black.

His family shared their thoughts on his legacy with Google. They told Google that they hope the birthday doodle from Google will spread more aloha around the world.

Watch Google’s animated video below

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