Harry Belafonte

Submitted by on Sep 7, 2015

Harry Belafonte


Harry Belafonte (born. Harry Belafonte), the full name of Harold George Belafonte, Jr. (born. Harold George Belafonte. Jr.; b. March 1, 1927) – American black singer, actor and social activist, called the king of calypso music. His album «Calypso» (1956) for 31 weeks held the top spot on the Billboard 200 and was the first in history has sold over a million copies.

Early Years

Belafonte was born in Harlem in a family of immigrants from Jamaica and Martinique. I grew up in poverty, with 8 to 13 years old lived with his grandmother in the Caribbean. Then in New York and graduated from high school he served in the Navy US Navy during World War II, despite the age of the minor.

After demobilization he returned to New York and enrolled in acting classes Edwin Piscator. He graduated from the Actors Studio and the dramatic laboratory at the New School for Social Research. The first role he played in «American Negro Theatre». After playing in one of the performances of his music noticed, we were invited to perform in nightclubs. In 1949, he appeared as a singer with the support of the orchestra, under the auspices of Charlie Parker record company «Roost». Belafonte began writing pop tunes in the style of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. In his spare time attending the music library, the Library of Congress, where listened to recordings of music of the peoples of the Caribbean region. Together with his friend, guitarist Thomas Milrad he made his debut in the famous jazz and folk clubs in New York «The Village Vanguard». The repertoire included songs Belafonte Caribbean, Negro spirituals, American folk songs. At the same time, he established close contact with Martin Luther King – the legendary fighter for the rights of blacks. He began the painstaking work of American artists to mobilize in support of the movement for equality of civil rights of people of color. Fifties

The result hobbies Belafonte ethnic music was a mixture of traditional pop music with Caribbean motifs and jazz. In 1952 they began to appear on his record company «RCA Victor», where he recorded before 1970.

In 1953, Harry Belafonte made his debut in the film Road Bright (Bright Road). In 1954, Belafonte starred in the musical film Carmen Jones (Carmen Jones) (1954) and then in the film Island in the Sun (Island in the Sun) (1957). He produced and starred in the 1959 film Betting Against Tomorrow (Odds against tomorrow). On television, Harry was always welcome, eagerly invited him to perform in variety programs. In 1960-ies. dissatisfaction with the proposed roles Belafonte forced to return to recording music.

The turning point came in 1956 with the release of his third LP (album) – “Calypso» (Calypso). It should be noted that on this disc was recorded only two songs native to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. This song «Banana Boat song» and «Farewell to Jamaica» became hits and have begun to fashion style “Calypso”. In 1956, they recorded two albums of music calypso became a national phenomenon and remained on the top of the charts selling over seven months – one of the record results in the history of show business. At the end of the next year his song «Mary’s Boy Child» topped the national charts UK.

Two times he spoke with great success at Carnegie Hall in 1959 and in 1960. More to the phenomenal success of «Calypso» Belafonte became one of the most popular actors of Broadway. In 1954 he was awarded the Theatre Award “Tony.” At the end of the 1950s, like many popular performers, he tried to move the musical success on the big screen. Films in which he starred, raising controversial questions at the time about the place of black people in American society.

On television, he led a popular evening talk show that he himself had produced. For this reason, Belafonte referred to as the first black producer in the history of American television. During his television achievements in 1960 was awarded the prize “Emmy».

He helped to “roll out” singer Miriam Makeba (Mariam Makeba) (South Africa), Nana Mouskouri and (Nana Mouskouri) (Greece) in America.

The following years

He received two awards “Grammy”in 1960 and 1965, 8 gold plates. Belafonte popularity waned during the”Beatlemania” in the United States. In addition to musical activities, Belafonte – known fighter for civil rights of blacks and actively involved in charity work.

Since the 1960s. Belafonte moving away from show business and focuses on activism in defense pritesnёnnyh ethnic minorities. During the struggle of African Americans for their rights Belafonte became friendly with Paul Robeson and Martin Luther King. President John F. Kennedy appointed him adviser to the Peace Corps on cultural issues.

Once an eleven-year break, the actor returned to the big screen in the early ’70s films “Angel Levine”(1970), «Buck and the Preacher» (1972), «Uptown Saturday Night» (1974). Although the actor’s game did not become his main occupation, Belafonte has continued to act, and not without success. Among his later works are worth mentioning Robert Altman movie”Kansas City”(1996) and an unusual interpretation of racism in the film”The fate of the white man” (1995).

The idea to write a song in 1984. «We Are the World», was conceived by Harry Belafonte . After the show, the starving of Ethiopia in the news, Belafonte contacted one of the largest managers in the entertainment industry by Ken Craig, he helped to collect stars to record a song, the money from the sale of which would go solely for the starving in Africa. And musicians, and their agents took part in the project is absolutely free. To record a song written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson gathered the names of 45 famous American music business. As a result of this campaign it has collected $ 70 million. The singer was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of the Higher Institute of Arts of Cuba for its contribution to world culture, life. Award Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Harry Belafonte was being a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, is actively participating in fundraising for children worldwide. The last concert he gave in 2003.

At the beginning of the XXI century, the legendary musician, black paved road to show business, proved to be a ruthless critic of George W. Bush and his advisers. During a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (2006) Belafonte called Bush “the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world”, and Colin Powell – “a traitor to the black race»

Recommend this artist friends:

Harry BelafonteHarry Belafonte
Harry BelafonteHarry Belafonte
Harry BelafonteHarry Belafonte

Leave a Comment