The life & career of Harry Belafonte

HBO Documentary Films New York premiered critically acclaimed HBO documentary “Sing Your Songs” chronicling the life & iconic career of legendary entertainer and Civil Rights hero Harry Belafonte at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem on Oct. 6.

During the course of an inspiring life that has paralleled the American civil rights movement, artist and crusader Harry Belafonte has tirelessly used his humanitarian influence to advance the causes of social justice, while forging a unique career punctuated by prestigious awards and industry firsts.

An intimate feature-length documentary, “Sing Your Songs” tells the rich life story of this remarkable artist and humanitarian when the film premiers exclusively on HBO on Oct. 17 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.

The two-hour film covers Belafonte’s life as calypso singer, television personality, husband, father, and world civil rights activists. Born in Harlem on March 1, 1927 of Jamaican descent mother Matannee, and father Harold George Belafonte, Sr. of Martinique, and from 1932-1940 he lived with his grandmother in her native country Jamaica.

When he returned to New York he attended George Washington High School after which he join the Navy and served during World War II. At the end of 1940s, he took classes in acting at the Dramatic Workshop of the New School in New York and performed in clubs in New York to pay for acting classes.

At first he was a pop singer, launching his recording career on the Roost label, but later he developed a keen interest in folk music. He was dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s.

Throughout his career, he has been an advocate for civil rights and humanitarian causes. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the turbulent civil rights movement of the 1960s. Belafonte supported the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa in the 1980s, which resulted in the release of Nelson Mandela from 26 years in prison in South Africa. Mandela later became president of South Africa in 1990s.

Belafonte continued his humanitarian causes to the famine in Ethiopia where millions of women and children were starving, and collaborated with song writer Quincy Jones to produce the song “We Are the World,” that was performed by popular singers from around the world to bring attention to the starving children of Ethiopia.

Belafonte is the father of three daughters and a son, and has two grandchildren, from two marriages. In April 2008, he married Pamela Frank.

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