FROM WIKIPEDIA COMMONS
Harry Belafonte (born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr.; March 1, 1927 – April 25, 2023) was an American singer, actor and activist, who popularized calypso music with international audiences in the 1950s. His breakthrough album Calypso (1956) was the first million-selling LP by a single artist.
Belafonte was best known for his recordings of “The Banana Boat Song“, with its signature “Day-O” lyric, “Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)“, “Jamaica Farewell“, and “Mary’s Boy Child“. He recorded and performed in many genres, including blues, folk, gospel, show tunes, and American standards. He also starred in several films, including Carmen Jones (1954), Island in the Sun (1957), and Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).
Belafonte considered the actor, singer, and activist Paul Robeson a mentor, and he was a close confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. As he later recalled, “Paul Robeson had been my first great formative influence; you might say he gave me my backbone. Martin King was the second; he nourished my soul.” Throughout his career, Belafonte was an advocate for political and humanitarian causes, such as the Anti-Apartheid Movement and USA for Africa. From 1987 until his death, he was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. He was a vocal critic of the policies of the George W. Bush presidential administration. Belafonte acted as the American Civil Liberties Union celebrity ambassador for juvenile justice issues.
Belafonte won three Grammy Awards (including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award), an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award. In 1989, he received the Kennedy Center Honors. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994. In 2014, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Academy’s 6th Annual Governors Awards and in 2022 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Early Influence category.