Iconic singer Harry Belafonte, who stormed the pop charts and smashed racial barriers in the 1950s with his highly personal brand of folk music, and who went on to become a major force in the civil rights movement, died on Tuesday at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was 96 the New York time reported.
Born in Harlem to West Indian immigrants, he almost single-handedly ignited a craze for Caribbean music with hit records like “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and “Jamaica Farewell.” His album “Calypso,” which contained both those songs, reached the top of the Billboard album chart shortly after its release in 1956 and stayed there for 31 weeks. Coming just before the breakthrough of Elvis Presley, it was said to be the first album by a single artist to sell more than a million copies.
Handsome and charismatic, he captivated audiences with dramatic interpretations of a repertoire that included folk traditions from all over the world — rollicking calypsos like “Matilda,” work songs like “Lead Man Holler,” and tender ballads like “Scarlet Ribbons.” By 1959, he was the highest-paid Black performer in history, with lucrative contracts for appearances in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York’s Palace.
He won two Grammys for his folk recordings (and years later, in 2000, a Grammy lifetime-achievement award). Popular with both white and black audiences, Belafonte made a point of refusing to perform in the Jim Crow South, maintaining the embargo from 1954 to 1961.
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What is the cause of Harry Belafonte’s death?
The cause of Henry Belafonte’s daughter was revealed to be congestive heart failure- said Ken Sunshine, his longtime spokesman. On April 25, 2023, Belafonte died from heart failure at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was the father of four children: Shari Belafonte, David Belafonte, Adrienne Belafonte Biesemeyer, and Gina Belafonte. Belafonte had five grandchildren, Rachel and Brian through his children with Marguerite Byrd, and Maria, Sarafina, and Amadeus through his children with Julie Robinson.