Farewell Harry Belafonte, Dead At 96: A True Musical Legend

Asma Irshad
Harry Belafonte
instagram | ronnetteturnercorley

Harry Belafonte, an actor, activist, and singer, has passed away. His well-known song, Day-O (The Banana Boat Song), introduced the world to the Calypso musical genre and was written by him. He was 96 at the time of his passing.

He Died In His Manhattan Home

Harry Belafonte posing while wearing a yellow hoodie
Flickr | YardHype

The man who swept the pop charts and broke through racial boundaries with his very personal style of folk music in the 1950s died on Tuesday at his Upper West Side Manhattan home.

The Reason For Death

A black and white picture of Harry Belafonte smiling at the camera
twitter | Nina Turner

According to Ken Sunshine, his longtime representative, the reason was congestive heart failure.

His Wife Was With Him

Harry Belafonte & his wife Pamela at an event posing at the camera
twitter | Michael Moore

In a press release, he confirmed that the singer was with his wife when he died.

He Made His Name During A Difficult Time

Mr. Belafonte's rise to the top of the entertainment world was momentous at a time when segregation was still solid, and Black people were still rare on both large and small screens.

He Broke Racial Barriers

Portrait of Harry Belafonte made by Christopher Burke Studio
twitter | Elizabeth

He was hardly the first Black entertainer to break racial barriers; Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and others came before him.

He Was Big

A picture of Harry Belafonte captured while singing
twitter | Jay Joseph Jr

But no one had built as excellent a name for himself as he did, and for a while, no one in music, black or white, was bigger.

Belafonte Was Proud Of His Life

Harry Belafonte smiling and posing while wearing a classy suit
twitter | We stand with meghan

Mr. Belafonte was proud of his life and accomplishments but was far from complacent. "About my own life, I have no complaints," he said in his book.

Celebrities Paid Tribute

Tribute and flowers
Unsplash | Belinda Fewings

Celebrities, including musicians, politicians, and others, are paying tribute to Harry Belafonte.

Tweet By Bernice King

The youngest child of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King, Bernice King tweeted and discussed their relationship, saying, "When I was a child, #HarryBelafonte showed up for my family in very compassionate ways. In fact, he paid for the babysitter for me and my siblings."

She Shared A Photo Of Belafonte At His Father's Funeral

Belafonte mourning with Martin Luther at the funeral service of Coretta Scott King at Morehouse College
twitter | Be A King

She shared a picture of the singer and continued, "Here he is mourning with my mother at the funeral service for my father at Morehouse College. I won't forget…Rest well, sir."

Tribute By John Legend

John Legend  performing at #Coachella Weekend One.
twitter | Entertainment Tonight

John Legend paid homage to Harry Belafonte on stage at the TIME100 Summit at Lincoln Centre in New York City. He said, "We just have to thank God that we had Harry Belafonte for 96 years."

Pictures Posted By Oprah Winfrey

A picture taken while Oprah Winfrey interviewing Harry Belafonte
instagram | Oprah

Oprah Winfrey posted pictures of her interviewing Harry Belafonte on her Instagram and a touching caption. She wrote, "Another GREAT TREE has fallen. Harry Belafonte, a Trailblazer and Hero to us all."

A Heart-touching Caption

She continued, "Thank you for your music, your artistry, your activism, your fight for civil rights and justice—especially for risking your life back in the day to get money to the movement. Your being here on Earth has Blessed us all."

Pictures Posted By Reverend Al Sharpton

A picture of Harry Belafonte shared by Reverend Al Sharpton
twitter | Reverend Al Sharpton

Reverend Al Sharpton posted many pictures of himself and Belafonte on Twitter and remembered their time together.

He Called Him A History

He wrote, "I'm heartbroken at hearing of the death of Harry Belafonte, a true mentor & friend. I cherished the time he would give me & others to guide us & correct us, He was a history changing activist, a culture changing entertainer, & an unmatched intellectual. RIP & Power, Mr. B."

Heart-Touching Words By Tiffany Haddish

With a touching caption, Tiffany Haddish uploaded a picture of herself with singer Harry Belafonte and the rapper, Common, on Instagram. She wrote, "Rest in peace King Harry Belafonte. I am so honored and Grateful that I got to sit at your feet and learn from you."

Barack Obama Went On Twitter

President Barack Obama went on Twitter, tweeting a photo of Belafonte at the White House with the message: "Harry Belafonte was a barrier-breaking legend who used his platform to lift others up."

He continued: "He lived a good life – transforming the arts while also standing up for civil rights. And he did it all with his signature smile and style. Michelle and I send our love to his wife, kids, and fans."

Belafonte Supported Political And Social Causes

Harry Belafonte hosting a show while wearing a suit
twitter | Firelightmedia

Belafonte spoke out and supported several political and social causes, including prostate cancer activism.

The Singer's Family

Harry Belafonte and his wife Pamela Frank laughing and posing
twitter | Hollywood life

Belafonte is survived by his wife, Pamela, and four children: son David, daughters Adrienne, Shari, and Gina, as well as two stepchildren and eight grandkids.