Hawaii became the last state to join the United States after approval from Congress on August 21, 1959. While Hawaii was once an independent nation, it is now the only US state with an archipelago located in the tropics.
The native Hawaiian people are Indigenous Polynesian people and carry the traditional name of Kanaka Maoli. It was initially settled over 800 years ago as Polynesians journeyed to the islands.
Now, their heritage is preserved through traditional Hawaiian music and through the Hawaiian language, which is the state’s official language, along with English.
Traditional Hawaiian folk music includes several types, such as chanting (mele) and music meant for dancing (hula).
Hawaiian singers throughout the years have continued the tradition of producing Hawaiian music, but during the Hawaiian Renaissance, more contemporary music was begun to be made as well.
One such popular singer was Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, who would become famous for his ukulele cover of the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which was made famous by Judy Garland in the 1938 movie, The Wizard of Oz.
10 /10 Recording Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World
In 1988, Israel’s friend called a Honolulu recording studio owned by Milan Bertosa at 3:00 am, wanting Israel to record a song.
The studio was just about to shut down but said he could come if he could make it within 15 minutes.
At the time, Israel weighed roughly 500 lbs. and needed an oversized steel chair to sit on.
After a quick soundcheck, the tape rolled, and the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” came out in one take.
9 /10 Chart Topper
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” would go on to be the longest maximum number one hit on any of the Billboard song charts as it spent over 185 weeks on top of the World Digital Songs chart.
The song debuted as number 12 on Billboard’s Hot Digital Tracks chart during the week of January 31, 2004. Additionally, as of October 2014, the song sold more than 4.2 million digital copies.