With Just A Hint Of Amelia

Princess Amelia and the Bucket with a hole in

Posted on: October 21, 2011

Dearest Amelia I said when I embarked on your special blog that I would try to introduce you to some great music, some of which you may never hear anywhere else! I also said that I would occasionally write a post about a particular artist or band; usually one that I admire, although not necessarily. But for the first of those posts I have chosen someone I believe is an incredibly talented man. How talented is he? Well probably even more talented than me or your Daddy. Yes I know that is hard to believe that, but it’s true.

The person I am talking about is the great Harry Belafonte. He is now 84 years old, which means he is hundreds of years older than me. Well ok, perhaps I told a little fib there. But he is considerably older than me and very, very much older than you. He was born on March 1st 1927 in New York. His mother was from Jamaica and his father was from Martinique and was a chef in the Royal Navy.

Harry wanted to become an actor and began singing in nightclubs to pay for his acting lessons. He started to become really interested in folk music and began studying that too. He was able to use all the free resources at the US Library of Congress and trust me that is a lot of books! I think it might have more books than in the whole of Godderwil. He had also spent much of his childhood living with his Grandmother in Jamaica. It was probably these two things that moved him towards his love of West Indian folk music, especially calypso. He signed his first record deal in 1949, ten years before I was born and almost a happily ever after length of time before Amelia Catherine Williams (that’s you) was born.

I think the first Harry Belafonte song I ever heard was “There’s A Hole In My Bucket”. I seem to remember that was one of the songs my Uncle Ben used to sing to me, along with the occasional George Formby (more of him another day perhaps) number. Belafonte’s music is something most people know nothing about but will probably recognise a few of his songs; in particular those that have been used in films. Tim Burton used a Belafonte track to great effect in his film ‘Beetlejuice’. It’s one of my favourite films which I’ll watch with you one day. But it is a bit scary so you’ll have to wait until you’re a little more growed up!

Mr Belafonte had a great ear for music from all around the world and he introduced a number of artists to America, including Miriam Makeba from South Africa and Nana Mouskouri from Greece. He had his own television show in the 60s and in 1962 a very young Bob Dylan made his first ever TV appearance on it. In fact there is one of Miriam Makeba‘s songs at the end of this post. He has always cared very much about other people and has taken a stand against racists amongst others. He also used his acting lessons to good effect by appearing in quite a few movies. He has shared a stage with many big stars including the Muppets!

Anyway enough words let’s shake it loose with some music shall we? Here are a few of my favourite Harry Belafonte songs, I hope that you like them too. I think you’re really going to dance to “Jump In The Line” There is also a special song in there for Halloween, can you guess which one it is?


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