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Remembering Harry Belafonte

Album Description

The recent passing of singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte has brought forth an outpouring of tributes. In a White House statement, President Biden called Mr. Belafonte a “groundbreaking American who used his talent, his fame, and his voice to help redeem the soul of our Nation.”

Although this remembrance album could rightfully have been created for a variety of TPS groups including TPS Commons, The Arts and Primary Sources & Civil Rights, it has been initially placed in the American Jewish Experience group.

We are glad to share several entries highlighting Mr. Belafonte’s Jewish connections along with Library of Congress and other supporting materials.  Primary Source Nexus, for example, has curated Collections Spotlight: Harry Belafonte, offering valuable supplemental resources.

Please feel free to add your resources as a way to a celebrate and honor a handsome, charismatic and extraordinary individual!

  Harry Belafonte   African American Entertainers   African American Singers   Folk Music   Art/Music   Civil Rights 

Harry Belafonte Obituary in NY Jewish Week

Teaching Notes

Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency details how Harry Belafonte, singer and civil rights activist who popularized ‘Hava Nagila’ in the US, died at 96, April 25, 2023. 

Library of Congress Blogs NOW SEE HEAR!

Teaching Notes

RIP Harry Belafonte is an April 26, 2023 blog post by Cary O’Dell  which notes:

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of the great Harry Belafonte, who passed away yesterday at age 96.  His 1956 album “Calypso” was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2017.  At that time, we were honored to have Mr. Belafonte sit down with us for a short chat.  In tribute, we share the interview with all of you.

  National Recording Registry  

Work, Love, Dignity and Play: 10 Key Harry Belafonte Songs (NY Times)

Teaching Notes

Playlist of songs of Belafonte who  began his career during the 1950s folk revival and continued to record — and helped orchestrate “We Are the World” — while pursing his many other artistic and political interests.

The life, career and activism of legendary performer Harry Belafonte

Teaching Notes

This PBS Newshour program on "Remembering Harry Belafonte" includes a  Newswrap lesson plus Student video which look back at the life, career and activism of the legendary performer. 

  PBS Newshour  

Reference note

'Harry Belafonte, a giant in the world of performance and activism, died Tuesday at 95. President Biden said Belafonte was "A groundbreaking American who used his talent, his fame and his voice to help redeem the soul of our nation." 

Danny Kaye & Harry Belafonte sing 'Hava Nagila' 1965

Teaching Notes

Here is additional background on "Hava Nagila’s Long, Strange Trip: The unlikely history of a Hasidic melody."

Erev Shel Shoshanim

Teaching Notes

Erev Shel Shoshanim ("Evening of Roses) is a poetic Hebrew love song. Its melody is often used as wedding music.

Reference note

Provided to YouTube by RCA on Album "Streets I Have Walked." Originally released 1963. All rights reserved by RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. Composer, Lyricist: J. Hadar. Composer, Lyricist: Moshe Dor.

Cantor Schwartz sings Ein Keloheinu to "The Banana Boat Song"

Teaching Notes

Additional background on Ein Keloheinu (“None is Like Our God”) is provided by MyJewish Learning.

The upbeat hymn signals the approaching close of Shabbat morning services with a recording available here.

Reference note

In memory of Harry Belafonte, who passed away this past week, Cantor Schwartz sings Ein Keloheinu to the tune of "The Banana Boat Song" (Day-O) which was performed live during these past Shabbat services. May his memory be for a blessing.

“Calypso”—Harry Belafonte (1956)

Teaching Notes

This guest post essay by Judith E. Smith provides background on how “Calypso” was added to the National Registry.

Hine Ma Tov (live in England, 1959)

Teaching Notes

The lyrics of this song come from Psalm 133:1 and are translated as follows according to

Hineh mah tov umah na'im shevet achim gam yachad!

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for people to dwell together in unity!

Reference note

R.I.P. Harry Belafonte - Hine Ma Tov (live in England, 1959)