Actor, activist and ‘Banana Boat’ singer Harry Belafonte dead at 96

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The iconic singer who supported the US civil rights movement dies aged 96 from congestive heart failure

Harry Belafonte, the actor, activist and singer well known for songs like The Banana Boat Song and Jump In The Line has died aged 96. According to The New York Times, his spokesperson claims the cause of death was congestive heart failure.

Belafonte has often been crowned as the most successful Caribbean-American singer, and lent his voice to the US civil rights movement. He also supported several causes in the 1960s including campaigns against poverty, apartheid and AIDS in Africa as well as support for left-wing movements including those in Cuba and Venezuela.

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Born in Harlem, New York in 1927 to a working class family, he first signed a record deal with RCA Victor in 1953. His breakthrough album Calypso in 1956, included his biggest hit Day-O (Banana Boat Song).

Tributes to the barrier-breaking singer has been pouring on on social media, with CNN anchor Christine Amanpour writing: “May Harry Belafonte, the lionhearted civil rights hero, rest in peace. He inspired generations around the whole world in the struggle for non-violent resistance justice and change. We need his example now more than ever.”

Singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte has died at the age of 95. (Credit: Getty images)Singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte has died at the age of 95. (Credit: Getty images)
Singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte has died at the age of 95. (Credit: Getty images) | Getty Images

Labour MP David Lammy said: “It was a great joy of my life to interview the late @harrybelafonte in 2012 and later welcome him to Tottenham. His music & films lit up my childhood home and encouraged my parents. But it is for his civil rights campaigning that I hope he rests in power alongside his friend MLK.”

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