Harry Bids Farewell

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Harry Belafonte obituary

“I ain’t a man to be played with
I ain’t nobody’ s toy,
I’ve been working for my pay
For a long long time”….

Belted out the lanky New York born Jamaican singer with his silky smooth yet rustic voice to the subtle strains of Millard Thomas’s classical guitar and the pulsating reverberations of the double bass by Norman Keenan. Sweeping the audience off their feet, our mellifluous genius had also created history at Carnegie Hall in 1959.

Harry Belafonte with Marti Luther King Jr and Gustave VI Adolf
Harry Belafonte with Marti Luther King Jr and Gustave VI Adolf

He had once said that he became an activist to become an artist, and had also been called upon by the voice of protest, Dr.Martin Luther King to join the Civil Rights Movement. Other notable artists like Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were also present in the historic march in Washington in 1963. After King’s assassination in 1968, Belafonte served as an executor of King’s estate and chaired the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Fund. Afterwards he continued to support national and international civil rights and humanitarian issues.


A school dropout due to dyslexia, Harry was later educated in New York Dramatic Workshop and acted in at least 13 films. Harry has been famous for his Caribbean calypso but he has collaborated with jazz stalwarts like Duke Ellington, has recorded blues, folk songs, gospels et al. His musical career spanned over more than 7 decades.

Day before yesterday, at the ripe old age of 96, Harry Belafonte bid his Jamaican farewell, leaving behind a cultural and social legacy that will be cultivated by generations to come.

And I don’t think he was sad to be on his way yesterday, after contributing his full share for the cause of humanity, music and entertainment.

Goodbye Harry ….. You will never leave us.


Image courtesy: Flickr

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One Response

  1. Precise article. For many of us of our generation his Jamaican Farewell was the first ‘English’ song we heard.

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