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Harry Belafonte

Source: (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for HB) 

NEW YORK–Grammy-Award winning singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte is dead at the age of 96. The “King of Calypso” died of congestive heart failure. Belafonte was born in Harlem in New York City to emigrants from the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Jamaica. He dropped out of high school to join the Navy in the mid-1940s.

Belafonte was best known for popularizing the Caribbean folk songs, or calypsos, with an international audience in the 1950s. Belafonte’s top hits included “Day-O (Banana Boat Song)” and “Jump In the Line.” Belafonte also acted on television and in films, notably he won an Emmy Award for his work on the TV special “Tonight with Belafonte.” He also won three Grammy-Awards, including a lifetime achievement award, as well as a Tony Award.

He was an early supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s and was a close friend of Doctor Martin Luther King Junior. In 1987, Belafonte became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. Just two years later, Belafonte received the Kennedy Center Honors.