No Belafonte for awards

Sunday, October 14, 2018

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Actor and musician Harry Belafonte will not be present at tomorrow's presentation of National Honours and Awards at King's House.

He is the sole recipient of the Order of Merit (OM), this year and is being recognised and rewarded for his outstanding contribution to the field of music.

The Sunday Observer has been informed that he will not make the event as he is still recovering from a recent illness and has not been cleared to travel. It is further stated that Belafonte has committed to come to Jamaica at a later date to accept the insignia.

The American singer, actor and social activist, who is now 91 years old, was born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr in Harlem, New York, to a Jamaican mother Melvine Love. His father is said to be from the French West Indies — Martinique. He spent eight years of his early life in Jamaica.

Musically his breakthrough album Calypso was released in 1956 and became the first LP in the world to sell over one million copies within a year. This album gave birth to the now famous Banana Boat Song (Day O); Jump in the Line, and Jamaica Farewell.

On the big screen, Belafonte is most remembered for his work in Otto Preminger's Carmen Jones (1964) opposite Dorothy Dandridge. His other credits include roles in Island in The Sun, Buck and the Preacher, Odds Against Tomorrow, and Uptown Saturday Night.

The honour of the Order of Merit may be conferred upon any citizen of Jamaica or distinguished citizen of a country other than Jamaica (an honorary member) who has achieved eminent international distinction in the field of science, the arts, literature or any other endeavour. It is not conferred upon more than two persons in any one year.

Among the persons who have received the OM are Cuban president Fidel Castro; reggae singer and songwriter Jimmy Cliff; cultural icon Rex Nettleford, folklorist Miss Lou; and reggae icons Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer.

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