BLACK VOICES

Harry Belafonte’s New 19-Track Album Highlights Need For Racial Unity

The iconic entertainer and activist was influential in curating the anthology.
The 19-track single-disc anthology will feature a selection of notable hits from Belafonte's illustrious career.
The 19-track single-disc anthology will feature a selection of notable hits from Belafonte's illustrious career.

Over his 68-year-long career, Harry Belafonte has made remarkable contributions to both the world of music and activism.

In commemoration of his upcoming 90th birthday on March 1, Legacy Recordings will highlight the entertainment icon’s esteemed cultural impact with the release of a 19-track single-disc anthology, “When Colors Come Together... The Legacy of Harry Belafonte.” The album, which was curated by Belafonte and produced by his son, David, will feature a selection of his notable hits, including “Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair),” “Turn The World Around,” and “Banana Boat Song (Day-O).”

The retrospective project will also include a remake ― performed by a multi-cultural children’s choir ― of Belafonte’s 1957 song about racial unity, “Island In The Sun.”

In an effort to bridge the generational gap between Belafonte’s fans, David Belafonte told The Huffington Post that he and his father decided to take a fresh approach to convey his message.

“The task that I assigned Harry with when we set out to do this was to take a look at all the years he spent building out this incredibly diverse collection of music,” David said. “If he had to cherry pick his top dozen, top 20 songs and introduce to a constituency that didn’t know you, but would best reflect those that are on point in terms of your message and on point with things that you just like about them, that’s what was selected. Handpicked by the man himself.”       

He added that a complementary video documentary chronicling Belafonte’s illustrious career is also in the works, and tentatively expected for release in the coming weeks.

In 1956, the civil rights activist became the first recording artist to achieve platinum success by selling over a million copies of his third album, “Calypso.” The intersection of his musical and humanitarian efforts would later lead him to create the star-studded “We Are The World” charity single in 1985 to benefit the famine crisis in Africa.

Lionel Richie and Harry Belafonte are joined by other performers at the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia as they all sing the
Lionel Richie and Harry Belafonte are joined by other performers at the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia as they all sing the concert-ending song of "We Are The World."

Recorded by a super group of 46 artists and produced by Quincy Jones, the USA for Africa initiative raised more than $60 million for hunger relief, making it one of the best-selling singles in history, according to the Sun Sentinel.

David hopes “When Colors Come Together” will provide a case study of sorts for a younger generation working to alleviate systemic societal issues.

“There is such an intense disruption in our world right now that you don’t know what to believe anymore. There aren’t any iconic leaders anymore, which is another reason why I felt it was important for kids to have a perspective on men like Harry. We’re being led by social media, we follow shallow studies on most stuff. Don’t know what is factual, what is real, and we’re living in a world of infinite rage,” he said.

“I looked at this as an opportunity to say, here is a good chance to find one thing to do and spark some change somewhere,” he continued. “Find some way to relieve some of that pressure from that rage I think we all feel.”

“When Colors Come Together... The Legacy of Harry Belafonte” hits stores and digital retailers Feb. 24.

HuffPost

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