Harold George Belafonte, Jr. (born March 1, 1927) is an American musician, actor and social activist. One of the most successful Jamaican musicians in history, he was dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the Caribbean musical style in the 1950s.
Belafonte is perhaps best known for singing the “Banana Boat Song“, with its signature lyric “Day-O”. Throughout his career, he has been an advocate for civil rights and humanitarian causes.
Belafonte started his career in music as a club singer in New York, to pay for his acting classes. The first time he appeared in front of an audience he was backed by the Charlie Parker band, which included Charlie Parker himself, Max Roach, and Miles Davis among others. At first he was a pop singer, launching his recording career on the Jubilee label in 1949, but later he developed a keen interest in folk music, learning material through the Library of Congress’ American folk songs archives. With guitarist and friend Millard Thomas, Belafonte soon made his debut at the legendary jazz club The Village Vanguard.