R.I.P. Harry Belafonte, singer, actor and civil rights activist
The singer behind such hits as "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" and "Jump in the Line" was 96.
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Harry Belafonte, one of the pioneers who made calypso music a phenomenon, has passed away.
Belafonte is remembered for his 1956 smash hit "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" which, alongside his "Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)," helped popularize calypso and Carribbean music with mainstream American listeners. Younger audiences may even remember the "The Banana Boat Song" from its use in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice.
Belafonte's contribution to pop culture cannot be overstated. His breakthrough release, Calypso, which contained "Day-O" and another signature song, "Jamaica Farewell," was the first record to sell one million copies within a single year. In addition to his accomplishments in music, Harry Belafonte was also a notable actor, appearing alongside Sidney Portier in movies like Buck and the Preacher and Uptown Saturday Night.
While audiences will doubtlessly remember his music and his movies, Belafonte's legacy will be defined by his ceaseless work as a human rights activist. Throughout the 1960s, he marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., becoming one of the most famous faces of the civil rights movement. While contemporary pundits are quick to laud Belafonte's humanitarian work, the entertainer was frequently blacklisted for his outspokenness about the inequalities and injustices of the world.
In addition to his work righting inequity within the United States, Belafonte was a proponent of ending famine in Africa. He was one of the key organizers of "We Are the World," a charity song recorded by the supergroup USA For Africa, in 1985. Inspired by the UK group Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?," Belafonte reached out to and led a veritable "who's who" of musical notoriety to release what would go on to become the eighth-best selling physical single of all time.
Belafonte is survived by his wife Pamela, his four children, and several grandchildren. He was 96 years old.
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(Tying two MeTV articles together.)
Let's remember Shari Belafonte, who was on Hotel
Legendary Singer, Songwriter, Actor and Humanitarian as well.
You made the world a better place Mr. Belafonte.
Condolences to his family, friends and individuals who worked with him over the years.
So crank up Beetlejuice!