Harry Belafonte, the pioneering Calypso singer, actor, and civil rights leader, has died at the age of 96.
According to The New York Times, Belafonte passed away on Tuesday from congestive heart failure.
Born on March 1st, 1927 in Harlem, New York to Jamaican-American parents, Harold Bellanfanti, Jr. served in the Navy in World War II before becoming enamored with the stage while attending shows at the American Negro Theater with close friend Sidney Poitier. Eventually, he began performing at the venue after taking acting classes at The New School and won a Tony Award for the 1953 musical revue John Murray Anderson’s Almanac.
Belafonte began his musical career performing in night clubs as a way to afford his acting classes. In 1953, he signed a recording contract with RCA Victor and soon after released his debut album Calypso, which featured his breakthrough single “Matilda.”
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