Trailblazing Singer and Activist Harry Belafonte Dies At Age 96

harry belafonte, unicef

Legendary singer, actor and producer, Harry Belafonte died on Tuesday at his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, according to reports. He was 96. Ken Sunshine, Belafonte’s longtime spokesman said that the cause of death was congestive heart failure.

Harry established a long and distinguished record of human rights advocacy during the American Civil Rights movement in the 1950s. In 1987, he was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Born in Harlem, New York, Harry moved to his mother’s native Jamaica, where he discovered the folk music that would become his trademark. His album Calypso was the first in history to sell more than a million copies.

As an actor, Harry won a Tony Award for his Broadway performance in John Murray Anderson’s Almanac. He was the first African American man to win an Emmy – for his television music special Tonight with Harry Belafonte.

In 1960, Harry was named Cultural Adviser to the Peace Corps. He later organized the multi-artist recording “We Are the World,” which won the 1985 Grammy Award for Record of the Year and raised millions of dollars for emergency assistance in Africa.

Harry was the recipient of numerous honours. In 1994, he received the National Medal of the Arts from US President Bill Clinton. He was awarded the Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Award of Excellence in recognition of his humanitarian work and the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award for 25 years of service to UNICEF. Over the years, Harry’s dedication and generosity helped set a high standard for the role of Goodwill Ambassador. An eloquent campaigner for the world’s children, Harry has met with Presidents, parliamentarians, and members of civil society to champion UNICEF’s cause.

More From LATF USA

Scroll to Top