his new memoir
Published by Knopf October 11, 2011
Author tour: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC
“A bracingly opinionated autobiography from an American original, still provocative in his ninth decade.
“Being the first singer to sell 1 million copies of an album and writing his own ticket at the otherwise segregated Riviera in Las Vegas did little to assuage Belafonte’s fury at the discrimination he experienced before he made it big. Nor had the emotional scars healed from a poverty-stricken childhood with a severely depressed, impossible-to-please mother, he acknowledges in this forthright memoir.
“Not until he met Martin Luther King Jr. in 1956 did Belafonte find a way to channel his rage into the larger struggle for racial justice. He would become as well known for his unswerving commitment to civil rights as for his records and concerts. He planned strategy with King; funded the young rebels at the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Council; acted as a liaison to the hesitant Kennedy administration; and recruited the celebrity-studded lineup for the March on Washington. Though never as big a movie star as his friend Sidney Poitier, about whom he writes with equal parts affection and competitiveness, Belafonte also had some successes in film. He recounts these highlights, as well as three marriages, four kids, a half-century in Freudian analysis, and lots more, with frankness and bite.
“He has mellowed not at all in old age, calling George Bush a terrorist in 2006 and judging President Obama to be insufficiently compassionate and committed to the poor. Yet Belafonte’s bluntness and vast ego aren’t too hard to take, since they are so often applied to the service of others.”
—KIRKUS, a starred review
“Belafonte looks back on a fascinating life and career.”—Vanessa Bush, BOOKLIST
Written with Michael Shnayerson.
Coinciding with the publication of this book will be a feature-length documentary about Harry Belafonte, SING YOUR SONG, debuting October 17th, exclusively on HBO and a companion album, “Sing Your Song: The Music,” released by Sony Masterworks.
Listen to “Jump In The Line” by Harry Belafonte