One of the most warm and gracious individuals who has ever visited the WUMB studios dropped by a few days ago with hardly any advance notice. Known to some as the “King of Calypso” -- singer-songwriter, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte is our guest for this Sunday’s Commonwealth Journal program.
In town to talk about his new memoir “My Song,” Mr. Belafonte had quite a bit to say about his influences growing up. “I have sought to alter the profile of poverty, but I have never chosen to leave it. So much of me resides there. So much of me was shaped by the environment of poverty. All of the nuances of my earliest years, the formative years, my adolescent years were shaped by the streets of
Harlem and the mountainsides of the rural life in and the Jamaica Caribbean and West Indies where my mother was born.”
He also spoke about other things that shaped his life. “When you get the best riff from an improvisational moment in jazz nothing is more embracing, nothing is more fulfilling, nothing is more overwhelming than a good improvisational jazz moment. In a way my life has been like that. So many things came my way. I sat in so many sections of life filled with endless harmony, and to sit in the midst of that, and to play the chords of experience that came my way was really quite a fulfilling experience. That experience led me to all of the things that shaped what I was to do in life. It led to music. It led to art. It led to activism.”
You can hear the interview with Harry Belafonte this coming Sunday night at on WUMB’s Commonwealth Journal program. Above, Mr. Belafonte is shown after his interview with one of our newest Commonwealth Journal hosts, Barbara Lewis, Director of the UMass Boston Trotter Institute for the Study of Black History & Culture.