Photo: Bruddah Iz on the ukulele (source: Kanilho.com).
The Jumping Flea
The ukulele is a string instrument. It looks like a small guitar with four strings. The ukulele was developed in Hawaii in the 1880’s. The design of the instrument was based on similar musical instruments from Portugal. At the time, many Portuguese immigrants were settling in Hawaii. Most were workers in the sugar plantations.
The word ukulele sometimes is interpreted as ‘the jumping flea.’ According to Queen Lilioukalani, the word means ‘the gift that came here.’ The first ukuleles are thought to have been made by three Portuguese cabinet makers. The instrument became popular in Hawaii and was used for royal performances.
Ukulele Performance by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Video: Israel Kamakawiwo’ole performs ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ on the ukulele (source: YouTube).
About Israel ‘Iz’ Kamakawiwo’ole
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was born in 1959 in the state of Hawaii. Known as ‘Bruddah Iz’, he was a popular local songwriter and musician. His music is usually classified as Hawaiian music blended with folk and reggae sounds. He was able to successfully bring about the unique fusion of different music genres. In so doing, he created a unique and new but traditional Hawaiian sound.
Iz died at the young age of 38. The scattering of his ashes into the Pacific is part of the ‘Over the Rainbow’ video. The video was made posthumously. That song gained international recognition.
About Over the Rainbow
‘Over the Rainbow’ was written for the Wizard of Oz movie in 1939. Judy Garland sang the song in her leading role of Dorothy. The song was written by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg.
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