Google paid tribute to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole on Wednesday (April 20) to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month on what would’ve been the singer’s 61st birthday.
The colorful animated Doodle finds the late Hawaiian music great — who passed away in 1997 at the age of 38 — performing his iconic rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” strumming his ukulele as he sits peacefully on the beach and picks plumerias. Interspersed with floating traditional Hawaiian prints known as kapa, the video tells the story of the singer-songwriter’s life and legacy as his music is passed down to future generations through a vinyl record emblazoned with his smiling face and nickname, IZ, on the front cover.
“The Kamakawiwoʻole Ohana (family) remains overwhelmed by the worldwide reach of Israel’s music and the reaction of everyone who hears his voice, a voice that instantly touches your heart,” Kamakawiwo’ole’s family shared in a statement accompanying the animation. “Having Google create a Doodle for his 61st birthday gives us all reason to again celebrate his life and impact on millions worldwide.”
Since it first topped the chart back in 2011, the late singer’s famous cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” has spent a record 541 weeks on the World Digital Song Sales chart, including 332 non-consecutive weeks at No. 1.
Check out Google’s tribute to Kamakawiwo’ole below.