Whether you know it from TV or films, Hawaiian singer Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole’s moving ukulele version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is powerful enough to melt even the most cynical hearts. The miraculous story of how that song came to be and the tragically short life of the man who performed it is the subject of Dan Kois‘s book Facing Future, named for Kamakawiwo’ole’s 1993 album, the greatest-selling Hawaiian record in history. Part of the 33 1/3 series of music books, Facing Future sheds new light on the artist’s struggle with drugs and obesity (at one point, he reportedly weighed more than 700 pounds) and how he became a hero and a martyr in his home state. Tonight, Kois—who writes for this paper, among others—discusses the book with music writer Nate Chinen. Traditional Hawaiian ukulele players Andy Kulana Wang and Jason Poole provide the tunes.
Thu., Aug. 12, 7 p.m., 2010