Harry Belafonte is a songwriter, singer, actor, and activist of American and Jamaican descent.
Harold George Belafonte Jr was born in Harlem, New York, on March 1, 1927, the son of melvin, a housekeeper, and Harold George Belafonte senior, a chef. His mother was born in Jamaica, the child of a Scottish Jamaican mother and an afro-Jamaican father. He studied acting at the New School’s Drama Workshop with the influential German director Erwin Piscatore, alongside Marlon Brando, Tony Curtis, Walter Matthau, B Arthur, and Sidney Poitier, at the end of the 1940s, while performing with the American Negro Theater, and received a Tony Award for his participation in the broadway review.
He moved on to a new chapter in his life as time passed. After 47 years of marriage to Julie Robinson, a former dancer with the Katherine Dunham company who was of Jewish origin, Belafonte married his second wife, a former dancer with the Katherine Dunham company who was of Jewish descent on March 8, 1957. In April 2008, Belafonte and Robinson divorced. Frank Belafonte married photographer Pamela.
Frank Belafonte began his career in music as a club singer in new york to pay for his acting classes.
Belafonte’s singing in the film was dubbed by an opera singer because his own singing voice was deemed unsuitable for the role. His breakthrough album Calypso, released in 1956, became the first album in the world to sell over one million copies in a year.
Belafonte confirmed this on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s The Link program on August 7, 2012. While most known for calypso, Belafonte has recorded in a variety of genres, including blues, folk gospel show songs, and American standards, and has spent 31 weeks at number one, 58 weeks in the top 10, and 99 weeks in the Billboard top 100 album list. The comedy tune Mama look at babu, also known as Mama look a boo-boo, which he sang about disobedient and disrespectful youngsters and reached number 11 on the pop chart utilizing his star cloud, was his second most popular hit, which came just after the banana boat song.
In 1959, he starred in tonight with Belafonte, a nationally televised special that featured Odetta, who sang waterboy and performed a duet with Belafonte of theirs a hole in my bucket, which hit the national charts in 1961.
Bellafonte’s two live albums, both recorded at Carnegie Hall in 1959 and 1960, enjoyed critical and commercial success from his 1959 album Hava Nagila became part of his regular routine and one of his signature songs. He was one of many entertainers recruited by Frank Sinatra to perform at president john f Kennedy’s inaugural gala in 1961. Later the same year, RCA Victor issued Jump Up Calypso, another million-selling calypso record.
During the 1960s, he introduced other musicians to American audiences, including South African vocalist Miriam McCabe and Greek singer Nana Mouskouri. As the Beatles and other British singers began to dominate the US pop charts, he included a teenage harmonica player named Bob Dylan on his record midnight special. The commercial success of Belafonte dwindled. Belafonte at the Greek Theater, released in 1964, was his final album to chart in Billboard’s top 40. A strange song, his last big single, was released in 1967 and reached number five on the adult contemporary music charts.
For the albums Swing Dat hammer and An Evening with Belafonte Macaba, Belafonte has won Grammys. The latter CD focused on the political situation of black South Africans during apartheid. He has six gold records to his credit. RCA released Belafonte’s fifth and final calypso album, Calypso Carnival, in 1971. After delivering his final album for RCA in 1974, Belafonte’s recording activity reduced significantly. In 1984, Belafonte produced and scored the musical film Beat Street, which dealt with the rise of hip-hop culture. He also produced the gold-certified soundtrack of the same name as Arthur Baker. His involvement in the United States for Africa during the mid-1980s resulted in a renewed interest in his music, culminating in a record deal with Emmy.
He then released his first album of original material in over a decade. Belafonte next appeared in a major film in the mid-to-late 1990s, co-starring with John Travolta in the race-reversal drama White Monsoon and Robert Altman’s jazz-age drama Kansas city. Following a long absence from recording, island records published an evening with Harry Belafonte and friends, soundtrack, and video of a televised event, in 1997. The long road to freedom: an anthology of black music, a massive multi-artist project recorded by RCA in the 1960s and 1970s, was ultimately released in 2001.
On September 11, 2001, Belafonte appeared on the Today show to promote the album and was interviewed by Katie Couric just minutes before the first plane struck the World Trade Center. The CD received grammy nominations for best-boxed recording package, best album notes, and best historical album in 2002. In 1989, Belafonte was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors. In 1994, he received the National Medal of Arts, and in 2000, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. From the 1950s to the 2000s, he performed sold-out concerts all over the world. Due to illness, he was forced to cancel a reunion tour with Nana Maskuri scheduled for the spring and summer of 2003.
After a tour in Europe, his final performance was a benefit concert for the Atlanta Opera on October 25, 2003. Belafonte was the keynote speaker and 2013 recipient for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Series at the Rhode Island School of Design on January 29th, 2013. Belafonte used his career and experiences with Dr. King to speak about the role of artists as activists. On January 11, 2014, Belafonte was inducted as an honorary member of the phi beta sigma fraternity. He received an honorary doctorate from Berkeley college of music in Boston in March 2014 for what we regard as human life work efforts and emotional distance mending, which he finds the most difficult.