Day-O: The Story of “The Banana Boat Song”

By | January 8, 2019

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American actor and singer Harry Belafonte poses next to the ocean circa 1957. Source: (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Harry Belafonte, one of the most well-known Jamaican-American pop singers, is closely associated with his signature song, “The Banana Boat Song.” The catchy Calypso tune shot to number five on the Billboard Chart in 1957, but more importantly, it introduced Americans to the rich and vibrant culture of the Caribbean and sparked the Calypso music craze. 

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Belafonte Embraced His Island Heritage

Although Harry Belafonte was born in Harlem, his parents were born Caribbean islanders. His father was from French-influenced Martinique and his mother was Jamaican. When he was only eight years old, he left the U.S. to live with his mother when she returned to her native Jamaica. Growing up there, he learned to appreciate the hard work and optimism of the island people.