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Belafonte, Harry  

Judith E. Smith

was born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr. on 1 March 1927 in New York City. He was the son of West Indian immigrants Melvine Love and Harold Bellanfanti, who came to New York with temporary visas and then stayed on without legal status. Love was the daughter of a black sharecropper and a white Scottish overseer’s daughter who followed several of her siblings from St. Ann’s Parish, Jamaica, to New York. She arrived in 1926 and found uneven employment as a domestic day worker Belafonte s father was the son of a black Jamaican mother and a white Dutch Jewish father who had come to Jamaica by way of West Africa He worked as a cook in New York and on the United Fruit Company boats traveling between New York and various Caribbean and Latin American ports The spelling of the family name varied as part of his parents efforts ...


Palacio, Andy Vivian  

Christel Keijzer

was born on 2 December 1960 in the village of Barranco, Belize (then known as British Honduras), one of three children of Cleofa Avilez and Reuben Palacio. Barranco is considered to be the first stronghold of the Garífuna, a people of mixed African and indigenous Caribbean descent, who were forcibly removed by the British from the island of St. Vincent to Central America in the late eighteenth century and arrived in Belize in 1802 In the early twenty first century approximately 7 percent of the polyglot multicultural population of Belize was of Garífuna descent In addition there are an estimated 250 000 Garífunas worldwide including those in Belize Honduras Nicaragua and Guatemala and those that immigrated to the United States While the forces of globalization have often contributed to the loss of unique languages traditions and music beginning in the second half of the twentieth century Garífuna musicians and ...


Ros, Lázaro  

Shelle Sumners

Lázaro Ros was born to a poor family in Havana in 1925. Even as a child, he was known to have a beautiful voice and he learned ancient songs of the Yoruba from Eugenio de la Rosa, a master singer.

In 1950 Ros was initiated into the Regla de Osha (Rule of Osha)—the system of beliefs and rituals practiced by the Lucumí (Yoruba for “friends”), the descendants of the Nigerian Yoruba people in Cuba, for the worship of Orishas, or deities. The Lucumí religion is also known as Santería, or cult of the saints, because to preserve their religious practices Cuban slaves were forced to meld their orishas with the identities of Roman Catholic saints, whom they ostensibly worshiped for the benefit of white slave owners. Lázaro Ros' particular orisha is Oggun the warrior spirit who represents among other things metal and civilization In ...


Sangaré, Oumou  

Kate Tuttle

Known as the songbird of Mali, Oumou Sangaré uses a mix of traditional and modern instruments, along with her powerful voice, to update Mali’s renowned Wassoulou sound. Based on music made by hunters, these old songs asked for protection and good fortune in the densely forested Wassoulou region. Sangaré, who says she sings “for the women,” retains much of the original sound—using guitar, kamelen ngoni (a small, harplike stringed instrument), and a variety of percussion instruments. To these she adds lyrics dealing with the status of women in a changing Africa.

“In Africa it’s still men who make all the decisions,” Sangaré says. “It’s time for women to be heard.” Accordingly, one song on her third album, Worotan (1997 describes the outcast status of childless women while others deal with domestic abuse and polygamy She feels very strongly about freedom of choice in marriage as her father ...


Sangare, Oumou  

Jeremy Rich

Malian musician, was born on 25 February 1969 in Bamako, Mali. When Sangare was two years old, her father emigrated to the Ivory Coast to search for employment and married a second wife. Mali was one of the poorest countries in West Africa in the late twentieth century, and many men left their families to make a living. The relatives they left behind would often experience adversity, and Sangare’s family was no exception. Her mother was a singer and she managed to keep her family fed through her performances at wedding and birth ceremonies organized by other women. Sangare later noted, “She brought up six children on her own, with no money. Sometimes all she could find to feed us with was wild herbs” (Oumou Sangare official website). By 1974 Sangare accompanied her mother to these performances and soon developed a love of singing Sangare started to sing at ...