Harry Belafonte Television And Video Archive / YouTube
Harry Belafonte, the legendary vocalist behind a bunch of iconic songs, has died.
Belafonte is often credited with popularizing calypso music in the United States. Some of his most beloved tunes include “Day-O (Banana Boat Song),” “Jump in the Line,” and “Matilda, Matilda.”
“Day-O” and “Jump in the Line” were famously featured on the soundtrack for Tim Burton’s 1988 film, Beetlejuice.
“Day-O” is undoubtably Belafonte’s signature piece. It spent a whooping total of 99 weeks on the chart. 31 of those weeks were spent at number one. To this day, Belafonte and “Day-O” hold the record for the fourth-longest run in Billboard chart history.
The success of songs such as “Day-O” led to Belafonte being dubbed the “King of Calypso.”
On top of his music career, Belafonte was at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. He was a close confidant to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who he first became associated with in 1956. King thought highly of Belafonte, once saying “we are blessed by his courage and moral integrity.”
As the years passed, Belafonte focused on human rights issues on a global scale. He is famous for recruiting almost all of the singers that were featured in the mega collaboration “We Are the World.” Belafonte performed the song’s chorus.
While they were recording that day, the superstar artists joined together to honor Belafonte with a “Day-O” tribute.
Belafonte’s career was so extensive, and his impact was so great. We haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to everything he accomplished over the course of his life.
The “King of Calypso” retired from performing in 2007. Health issues plagued him in the later years of his life, and he battled prostate cancer.
Then on Tuesday (April 25), Belafonte’s longtime spokesperson, Ken Sunshine, shared with NBC News that Belafonte passed away at his home in New York City. He died as the result of congestive heart failure. He was 96 years old.
NBC News states Belafonte is survived by his third wife, Pamela Frank, and his four children: Adrienne Belafonte Biesemeyer, Shari Belafonte, Gina Belafonte, and David Belafonte. They will be in our prayers during this sad time.
May Belafonte rest in peace.