Harry Belafonte  

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Harry Belafonte, a New Yorker of Jamaican origin, released wildly popular "calypso" hit records in the period 1956-1958. In reality "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" and "Jamaica Farewell" – both featured on Calypso (1956) and both written by Irving Burgie – were mento songs sold as calypso. Previously recorded Jamaican versions of these now classic "calypso" hits can be heard on the compilation Jamaica - Mento 1951-1958 (2009).

Louise Bennett-Coverley gave Harry Belafonte the foundation for his 1956 hit "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" by telling him about the Jamaican folk song "Hill and Gully Rider" (the name also given as "Day Dah Light")."

"Jamaica Farewell" was compiled and modified from many folk pieces to make a new song. Burgie acknowledged his use of the tune of another mento, "Iron Bar"".--Sholem Stein

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Harry Belafonte (born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr.; March 1, 1927) is an American singer, songwriter, activist, and actor. One of the most successful Jamaican-American pop stars in history, he was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) is the first million-selling LP by a single artist. Belafonte is perhaps best known for his recording of "The Banana Boat Song", with its signature lyric "Day-O". He has recorded and performed many genres, including blues, folk, gospel, show tunes, and American standards. He has also starred in several films, including Otto Preminger's hit musical Carmen Jones (1954), Island in the Sun (1957), and Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).

Belafonte was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, and one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s confidants. Throughout his career, he has been an advocate for political and humanitarian causes, such as the Anti-Apartheid Movement and USA for Africa. Since 1987, he has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. In more recent years, he has been a vocal critic of the policies of the George W. Bush presidential administrations. Harry Belafonte now acts as the American Civil Liberties Union celebrity ambassador for juvenile justice issues.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Harry Belafonte" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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