Now Reading
Harry Belafonte, singer, actor and tireless activist, dies aged 96 | Music

Harry Belafonte, singer, actor and tireless activist, dies aged 96 | Music

2023-04-25 10:13:56

Harry Belafonte, the singer, actor and civil rights activist who broke down racial limitations, has died aged 96.

In addition to performing international hits corresponding to Day-O (The Banana Boat Track), successful a Tony award for performing and showing in quite a few function movies, Belafonte spent his life combating for a wide range of causes. He bankrolled quite a few Sixties initiatives to deliver civil rights to Black People; campaigned in opposition to poverty, apartheid and Aids in Africa; and supported leftwing political figures corresponding to Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

The reason for loss of life was congestive coronary heart failure, his spokesman told the New York Times. Figures together with the rapper Ice Cube and Mia Farrow paid tribute to Belafonte. The US information anchor Christiane Amanpour tweeted that he “impressed generations round the entire world within the wrestle for non-violent resistance justice and alter. We’d like his instance now greater than ever.”

Bernice King, daughter of Dr Martin Luther King, shared an image of Belafonte at her father’s funeral and said that he “confirmed up for my household in very compassionate methods. In reality, he paid for the babysitter for me and my siblings.” The Beninese-French musician Angélique Kidjo referred to as Belafonte “the brightest star in each sense of that phrase. Your ardour, love, data and respect for Africa was limitless.”

Belafonte was born in 1927 in working-class Harlem, New York, and spent eight years of his childhood in his impoverished mother and father’ native Jamaica. He returned to New York for highschool however struggled with dyslexia and dropped out in his early teenagers. He took odd jobs working in markets and the town’s garment district, after which signed as much as the US navy aged 17 in March 1944, working as a munitions loader at a base in New Jersey.

After the battle ended, he labored as a janitor’s assistant, however aspired to change into an actor after watching performs at New York’s American Negro Theatre (together with fellow aspiring actor Sidney Poitier). He took performing lessons – the place his classmates included Marlon Brando and Walter Matthau – paid for by singing folks, pop and jazz numbers at New York membership gigs, the place he was backed by teams whose members included Miles Davis and Charlie Parker.

He launched his debut album in 1954, a group of conventional folks songs. His second album, Belafonte, was the primary No 1 within the new US Billboard album chart in March 1956, however its success was outdone by his third album the next yr, Calypso, that includes songs from his Jamaican heritage. It introduced the feelgood calypso fashion to many People for the primary time, and have become the primary album to promote greater than one million copies within the US.

The lead monitor was Day-O (The Banana Boat Track), a signature track for Belafonte – it spent 18 weeks within the UK singles chart, together with three weeks at No 2. His model of Mary’s Boy Youngster was a UK chart-topper later that yr, whereas Island within the Solar reached No 3. He launched 30 studio albums, plus collaborative albums with Nana Mouskouri, Lena Horne and Miriam Makeba. The latter launch received him one among his two Grammy awards; he was later awarded a lifetime achievement Grammy and the Academy’s president’s benefit award.

Bob Dylan’s first recording – taking part in harmonica – was on Belafonte’s 1962 album, Midnight Particular. The earlier yr, Belafonte had been employed by Frank Sinatra to carry out at John F Kennedy’s presidential inauguration.

A lifetime of activism … Belafonte with Martin Luther King Jr.
A lifetime of activism … Belafonte with Martin Luther King Jr. {Photograph}: Hulton Archive/Getty Photographs

Belafonte maintained an performing profession alongside music, successful a Tony award in 1954 for his look within the musical revue present, John Murray Anderson’s Almanac, and showing in a number of movies, most notably as one of many leads in Island within the Solar, together with James Mason, Joan Fontaine and Joan Collins, with whom he had an affair. He was twice paired with Dorothy Dandridge, in Carmen Jones and Vibrant Street, however he turned down a 3rd movie, an adaptation of Porgy and Bess, which he discovered “racially demeaning”.

He later stated the choice “helped gas the insurgent spirit” that was brewing in him, a spirit he parlayed right into a lifetime of activism, utilizing his newfound wealth to fund varied initiatives. He was mentored by Martin Luther King Jr and Paul Robeson, and bailed King out of a Birmingham, Alabama, jail in 1963 in addition to co-organising the march on Washington that culminated in King’s “I’ve a dream” speech. He additionally funded the Freedom Riders and SNCC, activists combating illegal segregation within the American south, and labored on voter registration drives.

He later centered on a sequence of African initiatives. He organised the all-star charity document We Are the World, elevating greater than $63m for famine reduction, and his 1988 album, Paradise in Gazankulu, protested in opposition to apartheid in South Africa. He was appointed a Unicef goodwill ambassador in 1987, and later campaigned to eradicate Aids from Africa.

See Also

After recovering from prostate most cancers in 1996, he advocated for consciousness of the illness.

He was a fierce proponent of leftwing politics, criticising hawkish US overseas coverage, campaigning in opposition to nuclear armament, and assembly with each Castro and Chavez. On the assembly with Chavez, in 2006, he described US president George W Bush as “the best terrorist on this planet”. He additionally characterised Bush’s Black secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as being like slaves who labored of their grasp’s home fairly than within the fields, criticisms that Powell and Rice rejected.

He was a frequent critic of Democrats, significantly Barack Obama, over points together with Guantanamo Bay detentions and the battle in opposition to rightwing extremism. He criticised Jay-Z and Beyoncé in 2012 for having “turned their again on social accountability … Give me Bruce Springsteen, and now you’re speaking. I actually assume he’s Black.” Jay-Z responded: “You’re this civil rights activist and also you simply bigged up the white man in opposition to me within the white media … that was simply the fallacious solution to go about it.”

He continued to take occasional performing roles. In 2018, he appeared within the Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman. In 2014, 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen introduced he was working with Belafonte on a movie about Paul Robeson, although it wasn’t developed.

Belafonte was married thrice, first to Marguerite Byrd, from 1948 to 1957, with whom he had two daughters, activist Adrienne and actor Shari. He had two additional kids together with his second spouse, Julie Robinson: actor Gina and music producer David. He and Robinson divorced after 47 years, and in 2008 he married Pamela Frank, who survives him.

Source Link

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

2022 Blinking Robots.
WordPress by Doejo

Scroll To Top