On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, singer, actor and human rights activist Harry Belafonte passed away at the age of 96. In 2012, he visited Melafestivalen for the screening of the documentary film about his life "Sing Your Song".
- There are few artists who choose to use their reputation to give back in a way that expands humanity itself. Harry Belafonte became such an activist, and perhaps even more than that," says Mela's director Khalid Salimi, " When he was at Mela, we learned a lot about the daily struggles of black Americans - and this is knowledge that we at Mela carry forward in our work.
Belafonte got his big break with hits like "Day-O" and "Jamaica Farewell". His 1956 album 'Calypso' is considered by The New York Times to be the first by a single artist to sell more than 1 million copies. Throughout his career, Belafonte released 30 albums, and he also starred in some 30 films and numerous television productions. He was a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and became one of the leading figures in the American civil rights movement. For many years he refused to perform in the South in protest at the treatment of blacks there. He was also an important spokesperson for the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and spent the rest of his life fighting for a number of humanitarian causes, including the fight against AIDS in Africa, the fight against nuclear weapons and championing women's rights.