Music legend and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte has died

Music legend and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte has died
Harry Belafonte with his wife Pamela Frank

This was reported by the Reuters news agency, citing the “New York Times” on Tuesday afternoon. The music legend became world famous with the “Banana Boat Song” with the distinctive vocal line “Day O” in the 1950s. He then used his popularity in connection with his political commitment.

Belafonte, he turned more and more to political activism over time. His commitment to human rights also took him to Austria several times: He was a guest at the Vienna Opera Ball in 1992 and also made guest appearances at concerts in this country. He was also a guest at the Viennale in 2011. There he presented his documentary “Sing Your Song”. In the Gartenbaukino he was honored with standing ovations even before the film was shown. Visibly touched, the then 84-year-old was cheered and applauded, and then thanked the audience with anecdotes until midnight.

Belafonte once became a world star with two long drawn-out syllables: “Daaaay-Ooo” at the start of the calypso hit “Banana Boat Song”, which has long been a catchy tune. Belafonte sold more than 100 million records with songs like “Island in the Sun”, “Matilda” and “Jump in the Line”, acted in more than 40 films and was always politically involved. He fought alongside Martin Luther King Jr. for black civil rights in the USA, with Nelson Mandela against apartheid in South Africa and as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador for children in Haiti and Sudan.

Born in New York, Belafonte spent much of his youth in his mother’s Jamaican homeland. During World War II he served in the US Navy and then attended the legendary drama school in New York run by the émigré German director Erwin Piscator with colleagues such as Tony Curtis and Marlon Brando. Music was added and Belafonte, the son of a Martinique ship’s cook and a Jamaican laborer, became the “Calypso King”. Behind the cheerful holiday music, however, was an outcry against slavery.

After seeing a news report about the Ethiopian famine in 1984, he took the initiative that led to the recording of the fundraising song “We Are the World”. On the world hit he sang together with Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson and Ray Charles.

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: Nachrichten

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