I grew up with Harry Belafonte and his music – my mom absolutely loved him and loved his music.
Great man, truth teller, trailblazer. I love him in this song with the Muppets.
If you only watch one video, watch this one:
I hope you can take a few minutes and read this article, if you haven’t seen it already.
‘The Sit-In’: Revisit the ‘Lost’ Week in 1968 When Harry Belafonte Hosted ‘The Tonight Show’
Non Muppet Version of Day-O
Classics – Michael, Row the Boat Ashore
The Midnight Special
Harry Belafonte & Falumi Prince – Turn the World Around (Live)
Turn the World Around with the Muppets (I can’t find the full version, if you find it, add the link in the comments.)
11 Turn the World Around – Harry Belafonte (Jim Henson’s Memorial Service)
Harry Belafonte and Danny Kaye sing Hava Nagila in 1965.
I hope we can all share our memories of Harry Belafonte, going him a proper send-off.
Rest in Peace, Harry.
My favorite Harry Belafonte muppet song is “Turn the World Around “. I could watch that one over and over again.
West of the Rockies
I just listened to a bit of his music last night. What a great human being.
He is one of the people who always seems full of light and joy. An inspiration.
Aloha, Mr. Ambassador.
RIP – an amazing human, that’s for sure.
Thanks for that last muppet video, I’d never seen it before.
“Day-O” has always given me the feels — such a plaintive chorus — and I am sobbing now.
I loved many of his songs. This one showcases the flawlessness of his voice — a simple arrangement, no fireworks, nothing to hide behind, just pure singing. His vibrato does have an unfortunate tendency to make me sob, but that’s my problem, not his.
@SiubhanDuinne: Me, too. Crying for the loss of Harry Belafonte, and for my mom, I think.
My grandmother adored him.
What a gift he gave us.
Bruce K in ATH-GR
I couldn’t find the full version of the Muppets’ performance of “Turn the World Around”, but I did find the version he sang at Jim Henson’s memorial … haunting.
Just absorbing this news. I remember seeing some of his Tonight Show week — I was in high school — and how high-quality it was. Another good movie he was in, and which was largely his production, is Odds Against Tomorrow. RIP
The epitome of grace. He had a good long life, and used his talents to benefit us all.
@Bruce K in ATH-GR: Yes, i nearly included that one in the post, then didn’t at the last minute. I added it up top now.
Thanks WG will give the songs a listen
A little math tells me that he was 52 in that first Muppet clip. I don’t know how you looked at 52, but I can tell you that I did not look like that.
Of course, I did not look like that at 32, either. But I’d like to think that he aged well due to clean living and a righteous heart.
My first wife LOVED Harry Belafonte’s music.., so much so that we used it as background music before her funeral. Some questioned that choice, but having her casket procession into the church to the “Banana Boat Song” was <chef’s kiss> perfect…
I did have to restrain myself from doing Katherine O’Hara’s dance (from Beetlejuice) to it.
Villago Delenda Est
Rest in Peace AND Power, Harry.
I took my 5 yo daughter to see him in 1990, quite a performer.
Villago Delenda Est
@Salty Sam: Absolutely appropriate. I wore my very loud Mariners shirt (mostly screaming blue) to my Mom’s memorial service, because she just loved that shirt.
He was a wonderful human being. Were that are more like him.
My folks had his Christmas album. Mary’s Boy Child & I heard the bells on Christmas day. Just glorious.
Aww, what a punch in the gut. Loved him and so did my mom.
This clip has gone viral a few times, but here are the USA for Africa artists singing the Banana Boat Song.
Another popular favorite: Matilda
And Allan Sherman’s loving parody: My Zelda
Thank you, WG.
I’m reading Jeff Shartlet’s The Undertow. He opens the book with a Harry Belafonte interview. What use of talent in service of righteous anger.
Conversations I believe must have happened:
Sidney Poitier: Say, Harry, I’m directing a Western, about some of the struggles our people faced on the frontier. It’s called BUCK AND THE PREACHER. I’m playing Buck… want to play the Preacher?
Harry Belafonte: Now, Sidney, is there any nudity in this role? Because you know how I feel about that.
Poitier: No, no nudity, just some good old Western shootouts, some laughs, and maybe a little message.
Belafonte: Well, I’m sorry, but I just can’t do that.
Poitier: Ugh, fine, you can have one nude scene.
Belafonte: Like, full-on nude, right? Flashing my ass at the whole audience?
Poitier: I said yes already, dammit, let’s just make this movie.
I was playing a big tribute concert and he was one of the presenters. I was just a drummer for one among several acts – but backstage, HE came up to ME and thanked me for my “artistry.” One of the most humbling, amazing moments. So cool.
I am ashamed that I only found out about him hosting The Tonight Show maybe 2 years ago. Watching those clips was amazing.
West of the Rockies
OT, so question… is DeSantis Pompeo without the charm, or is Pompeo DeSantis sans charisma?
@RL: That really is cool!
This does make me sad.
@West of the Rockies:
Fallacy of the excluded middle.
@RL: Wow! That’s an incredible memory to have.
@RL: Wow. That’s a memory for a lifetime.
My daughter, at around age 4, became captivated by his name and would walk around randomly shouting “Harry Belafonte!” At 20, she’s sad to hear he’s left us. As are her parents.
Anonymous At Work
Beetlejuice, both the Banana Boat song and Jump in the Line. And no reason to celebrate both scenes. There’s a pretty good line between Banana Boat scene and Everything Everywhere At Once.
Paul in KY
RIP mighty Harry Belafonte. A man who’s soul was reflected in his looks.
Turned out so true for Powell, and Michael Steele as well.
Steele makes noise on MSNBC. I wouldn’t say we don’t hear from him. The GOO doesn’t.
Mr Belafonte was an amazing musician, activist and all around wonderful human being.
His voice and his social conscience influenced many to get involved and make their voices heard.
On a personal note, “Jamaica Farewell” is a song that has spoken to me since I was 7 or 8 years old. I could hear the sadness the voice felt about leaving his loved one but I could also hear happiness that he felt at the life he led. I asked my mother to buy me the 45 and she happily complied. She loved Harry Belafonte too.
50 years later, “Jamaica Farewell” inspired me to take up the guitar. I am now 71, a 3 and 4 chord guy and that song launches the same feelings in me as it did the first time I heard it, all those years ago.
Thank you, Harry, for a lifetime of inspiration and listening pleasure.
Along with his magnificent voice, Belafonte had one of the most uplifting smiles I’ve ever seen. Just seeing the man smile made me happier.
You can’t really complain about reaching 96, but it’s still a sad day.
Just peripheral but…
As a child in Jamaica, at age 10, I got my first job. Before school, at 4 AM I had to go to the docks for my job as Spider Boy. I was given a flashlight and a stick. My job was to brush tarantulas off the bananas before they were loaded on the boat. I certainly could relate to ” daylight come and me.wan’ go home.”
Looking forward to reading his book, My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance; learning more about his important role in the Civil Rights movement, especially with SNCC.
Have a vague memory of a radio interview in which he talked about being surprised arriving in the US to find we let the radio do our singing for us instead of singing ourselves.
Bob Dylan’s first officially recorded performance: playing harmonica for Harry Belafonte’s Midnight Special.
@Anotherlurker: Wow, there’s a huge difference between the version of Jamaica Farewell in the top post – and this version.
I imagine this is the version you are referring to?
@Splitting Image: A very sad day. Still, even with the sad news, I laughed out loud several times while watching/listening to the Day-O song with the muppets.
@Ajabu: Spider boy. Ha! Yikes. Great memory, though.
@Ajabu: I do not envy you that job.
I had never heard of Belafonte’s week on The Tonight Show. I think it says a lot about the man he was that (a) the powers that be permitted it, and (b) it was a ratings success.
Thank you, sir, for everything.
@WaterGirl: My grandma had a party record with him singing “There’s a Hole in the Bucket.” I listened to it all the time growing up. And now I’m crying, too.
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
God, he was a handsome man! Along with being a great singer and civil rights figure and a wonderful guy in general. Just had to say it. I bet all the white women who loved him and his music pissed off a lot of racists in the 50s and 60s.
@WaterGirl: Not specifically the Ed Sullivan Show version. The song just inspired my emotional response through the various arrangements I have enjoyed over the years.
BTW, that is a very impressive set that they used. From the art direction of the set pieces, the movements of the extras to the use of rear screen projection. It was a beautiful piece of theatrical art and technology.
My mom was also a huge Belafonte fan. Possibly because of this we had a student from the Caribbean live with us for a couple years, which was a great experience for kids living in a very white neighborhood. Years later she befriended a Calypso performer who came through town, he would always get in touch when he was in the area, really fun to hang out with.
@JustRuss: How wonderful!
Oh, that Muppet video is great. I’ll have to watch these later when I’m not supposed to be working. I love when the tarantula pops up on his shoulder!
@zhena gogolia: Hey, that tarantula wasn’t just there for looks; he had a singing part.
Belafonte was also quite critical, rightfully so, of Barack Obama. On the other hand, he (Belafonte) embraced foreign leaders whose actions failed to match their rhetoric (Castro, Chavez, etc.).
No president is perfect and as the first African American president, Obama faced pressures and criticisms no other president has faced. However, he was far from perfect, a description that fits Belafonte and all of the rest of us, too.
My mother, a southern racist, swooned over Belafonte, whose popularity as a singer was overshadowed, if not as widely recognized by his contributions to the Civil Rights movement.
Orange is the New Red
I love Mr. Belafonte’s voice, and appreciate him hugely for introducing Miriam Makeba to a US audience.
My aunt and uncle introduced me as a boy to his “Belafonte at Carnegie hall” album. Such a lovely performance.
Matilda, Matilda, Matilda, she take me money and run Venezuela
@TooTallTom: I love his version of Mary’s Boy Child! Bought that album for that song.
@Juju: I’m listening to that on repeat today. Such a wonderful song.
He was the soundtrack to my pre and post kindergarten years; I loved his music then and still do. Jamaica Fairwell came up at my music group last month and I went to the Mic for the first time to sing it; it felt so good to hear him in my head as I sang it since it had been years.
Rest in power, Sir.
@Ihop: That Carnegie Hall album was the soundtrack of my early years. I memorized every song, mimicking the different accents he employed. When I was a bit older, my parents took me to hear him live at the Hollywood Bowl. What an evening! On the way home I was singing “Zombie Jamboree” until my mother explained it wasn’t really suitable for my youthful stylings.
Harry Belafonte inspired me to learn more about the world beyond my white middle-class Orange County neighborhood. Rest in peace, sir.
I was working the door at the Ritz DC in the early 90s and he and his family came to stay when he was a Kennedy Center honoree. He was one of a handful of celebrities I met that had electric charisma. Literally lit up the room when he walked in. All eyes upon him, just radiant positive energy out of an average size human. Always polite in addressing staff as well. One of the few that left an indelible impression on me. Whatever “it” is, he had it. RIP Mr Belafonte, thank you sir
My favorite memory of Mr. Belafonte was when Colin Powell was serving as a useful idiot in the drive to war in Iraq, “Belafonte said: “In the days of slavery there were those slaves who lived on the plantation, and those slaves who lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master, exactly the way the master intended to have you serve him. Colin Powell is committed to come into the house of the master.””