Celebrating Black History: Legendary civil rights activist Harry Belafonte to speak to Houston audience

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HOUSTON - A living legend is coming to Houston! Legendary singer, actor, humanitarian and activist-- Harry Belafonte-- is headed to H-Town for the Brilliant Lecture Series on February 23.

In 1956, Belafonte did what no other solo artist had done before-- not Frank Sinatra, not Bing Crosby, not even Elvis! -- he sold more than a million copies of his LP album "Calypso."

And today, you can go to any NBA game, and you'll hear the King of Calypso's most famous tune, "Day O."

It's very rewarding for the 89-year-old singer!

"There are all these young kids with ice cream on their...around their chin, singing 'Day O'-- and I'm sitting right next to them-- and they don't even know who I am," Belafonte laughed.

In 1985, Belafonte changed the world with another song, bringing together the biggest names in music, including the King of Pop-- Michael Jackson-- to create "USA for Africa" which raised money for famine relief for Africa.

"We are the world, we are the children," the song's catchy lyrics touched millions.

"What all those artists did was really quite remarkable," Belafonte told NewsFix.

Belafonte recalled that MJ and Lionel Ritchie were supposed to have a third contributor writing the song, but he never showed up! That missing person was none other than Stevie Wonder, who did make it to the recording session and sang his heart out.

"And they wrote the song without Stevie Wonder," Belafonte added.

He says one of his heroes these days is "The Boss." Bruce Springsteen.

"I love him," Belafonte said.

But he also loves other music as well.

"I'm deeply immersed into hip hop," he said. He especially loves artists like Chuck D and Common.

As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to note that Belafonte is a living part of history, even right here in the Bayou City.

"When I first came to Houston was some years ago when I appeared, and appearing with me was Aretha Franklin," Belafonte recalled. "And we did a benefit and introduced Dr. King to Houston."

Belafonte says that night, just as King was about to speak-- they had to evacuate the building because some disrupters had placed tear gas in the air vents!

Sadly, as a result of that incident, King never got to speak to the Houston audience that night.

But now you can hear the rest of the story from Belafonte when he comes to town.

He said he's eager to hear from Houstonians.

"I'm looking forward to their level of curiosity, to the kind of response they will give some of the things I will speak about," he said.

"A Conversation with Harry Belafonte" happens at the Wortham Center on February 23 at 7 p.m.

Don't miss your chance to see a man who helped changed the world.

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