Harry Belafonte: The Life and Career of the Calypso King

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte is an icon in the world of music and entertainment. From his humble beginnings in Harlem to his rise to stardom as the “King of Calypso,” his life and career have been nothing short of remarkable. This article will take you through the life and times of Harry Belafonte, from his childhood to his activism, and everything in between.

Table of Contents

  1. Childhood and Early Life
  2. Early Career
  3. The Rise of the “King of Calypso”
  4. Acting Career
  5. Activism and Humanitarian Work
  6. Legacy and Impact
  7. Awards and Honors
  8. Personal Life
  9. Harry Belafonte’s Discography
  10. The Influence of Harry Belafonte
  11. The Social Significance of Harry Belafonte
  12. The Future of Harry Belafonte’s Legacy
  13. The Harry Belafonte Documentary
  14. The Harry Belafonte Cultural Arts Center
  15. The Harry Belafonte Fund for Social Justice

Harry Belafonte Childhood and Early Life

Harry Belafonte was born on March 1, 1927, in Harlem, New York City. His parents were Jamaican immigrants, and Harry was the youngest of their five children. His mother was a housekeeper, and his father worked as a cook on a banana boat. Harry’s parents divorced when he was young, and he was sent to live with his grandmother in Jamaica.

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Belafonte’s childhood in Jamaica was a formative period in his life. He was exposed to the music and culture of the island, which would later influence his music. He returned to New York when he was 12 years old, where he faced racism and discrimination. Despite this, he excelled in school and won a scholarship to study at the New York Dramatic Workshop.

Early Career Harry Belafonte

Belafonte’s early career was marked by a series of odd jobs and stints in the Navy. After leaving the Navy, he returned to New York and began performing in small clubs and coffeehouses. He was discovered by a talent scout, who helped him get his first recording contract. His early recordings were a mix of folk and calypso music, which set him apart from other performers of the time.

The Rise of the “King of Calypso”

Belafonte’s breakthrough came in 1956, with the release of his album “Calypso.” The album featured his hit song “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song),” which became a massive success. The album stayed at the top of the charts for 31 weeks and sold over a million copies. Belafonte’s success made him the first African American to win a Grammy award.

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Belafonte’s popularity continued to grow throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He released a string of successful albums, including “Belafonte Sings the Blues” and “An Evening with Belafonte.” He also appeared in several films, including “Carmen Jones” and “Island in the Sun.”

 Acting Career

Belafonte’s acting career was just as successful as his music career. He appeared in over 20 films throughout his career, including “Buck and the Preacher” and “White Man’s Burden.” He also appeared on television, including in the series “Anatomy of a Murder” and “The Twilight Zone.”

Harry Belafonte: The Life and Career of the Calypso King
A 1976 portrait of the singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte. He died Tuesday at age 96. AFP/Getty Images

 Activism and Humanitarian Work

Belafonte’s activism and humanitarian work have been an important part of his life and career. He was a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and was involved

Harry belafonte spouse

Harry Belafonte has been married three times. His first marriage was to Marguerite Byrd in 1948, and they had two children together before divorcing in 1957. His second marriage was to Julie Robinson in 1957, and they had two children together before divorcing in 2008. Belafonte’s current spouse is photographer Pamela Frank, whom he married in 2008.

Harry belafonte day o

“Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” is a traditional Jamaican folk song that was popularized by Harry Belafonte in the 1950s. The song tells the story of dock workers loading bananas onto ships and is known for its catchy melody and memorable refrain. Belafonte’s version of the song, which features his distinctive voice and a Caribbean-influenced arrangement, became a massive hit and remains one of his signature songs to this day. “Day-O” has been covered by numerous other artists over the years and has been featured in many films, TV shows, and commercials.

Harry belafonte songs

Harry Belafonte is a legendary singer and performer who has recorded dozens of popular songs over the course of his career. Some of his most famous and beloved songs include:

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“Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” – This traditional Jamaican folk song became a massive hit for Belafonte in the 1950s and remains one of his signature tunes.

  1. “Jump in the Line” – Another Caribbean-inspired song that features Belafonte’s energetic vocals and catchy melodies.
  2. “The Banana Boat Song” – A different version of “Day-O” that features a slower tempo and more elaborate instrumentation.
  3. “Jamaica Farewell” – A wistful ballad that celebrates the beauty and culture of Belafonte’s native country.
  4. “Matilda” – A playful tune that tells the story of a woman who steals a man’s money and leaves him heartbroken.
  5. “Island in the Sun” – A romantic song that evokes the warmth and tranquility of life in the Caribbean.
  6. “Man Smart (Woman Smarter)” – A fun and lighthearted song that playfully explores the differences between men and women.

“Try to Remember” – A tender ballad that showcases Belafonte’s sensitive and emotional side.

These are just a few examples of the many great songs that Harry Belafonte has recorded over the years. His music continues to inspire and entertain people all over the world.

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