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You are the heart of Hawai`i
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was bigger than life, his music reaching out to Hawaiians encouraging them to take pride in their heritage and to love and understand everyone. He was a huge man whose larger spirit wrestled with his giant physical form, and finally escaped at the age of 38, when he died on June 26, 1997.
IZ, whose parents were born on Ni'ihau, traveled throughout Hawai'i, singing about the land and the people. Though it was difficult for IZ to move during the last months of his life, he carried oxygen to keep himself going and checked in and out of the hospital between engagements. While he was resting, he communicated with his fans worldwide through his own iz.com web site and email. Each time he regained energy, Israel came out again to pack auditoriums with fans who treasured every last live performance and often sang along with him-a chorus that would fill a cathedral.
Israel's legacy is his songwriting, his recordings and his spirit, which remains with people of all ages, whom he touched with music, humor and a grace uncommon for such a talented man. As IZ told his fans on his album E Ala E, Ka puna pu'u wai o Hawai'i nei, "You are the heartbeat of Hawai'i."