Folk Singer and Rights Activist Harry Belafonte passed away on Tuesday due to congestive heart failure. A singer, actor and a rights activist, all blended in one had been a charismatic performer on and off the stage as Harry Belafonte broke racial barriers and had been one of the most influential personalities in the United States since the 50’s.
Life and Times of Harry Belafonte
Harry Belafonte was born in Harlem to a Jamaican mother and his father hailed from Martinique. However, he was taken to Jamaica by his mother which led him to get acquainted with the Jamaican culture. His rise to fame and recognition started with his songs that bore the signature of the Caribbean culture, which began, of course, with the songs, actual folk music.
Harry Belafonte took his best-selling music on the road, to white audiences who’d pay a lot of money to watch him perform from his million-selling album “Calypso” the one with “Day-O.” A major part of his knowing people was knowing that they watched TV. And rather than simply translate his hot-ticket cabaret act for American living rooms, Belafonte imagined something stranger and more alluring. In 1959, Harry Belafonte somehow got CBS to broadcast “Tonight With Belafonte,” an hour-long studio performance that starts with a live commercial for Revlon (the night’s sponsor) and melts from the gleaming blond actor Barbara Britton into the sight of Black men amid shadows and great big chains.
Harry Belafonte – The Performer
One of the most famous songs that idolized him was “The Banana Boat Song” which was inspired by the street vendors. “The song is a work song,” he said. “It’s about men who sweat all day long, and they are underpaid. They’re begging for the tallyman to come and give them an honest count: ‘Count the bananas that I’ve picked so I can be paid.’ When people sing in delight and dance and love it, they don’t really understand unless they study the song — that they’re singing a work song that’s a song of rebellion.”
The singer passed away at the age of 96 after suffering congenital heart failure, the breaking news was confirmed by his family members and those in close quarters.
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