"I believe the Grammys also missed an opportunity to remind the world that there was another great artist and humanitarian," wrote Shari in an essay
The 2024 Grammy Awards honored the late musicians Tina Turner, Tony Bennett, Sinead O'Connor and Clarence Avant with tribute performances during the ceremony's "In Memoriam" segment. But Shari Belafonte thinks her late father, the legendary Harry Belafonte, deserved more of a moment.
The actress and musician opened up about her feelings in an essay for Deadline on Friday, detailing Harry's many cultural accomplishments and advocating for a more substantial tribute for the Grammy-winning calypso artist, who died of congestive heart failure at age 96 in April 2023.
"So many talented, wonderful people left us this past year. But to me, the standout obviously would be my father, Harry Belafonte," wrote Shari, 69, whose father was included in a slideshow at the ceremony but not specially highlighted.
"There have been numerous homages made to Harry since his passing in April of last year. There will be many more," she added. "But the one you would immediately imagine to be grand would’ve been the one the Grammys would have done. And yet, a two-second picture of him on the screen was all that was allotted."
Shari continued, "Now don’t get me wrong. While the folks who had a bit more of a shout-out this year were absolutely deserving of the accolades, I’m a bit appalled that Harry was not included in a 'Special Tribute' section. And I’m not just saying that because he was my father."
The Morning Show star explained that Harry was the first Black man to win an Emmy, holds EGOT status and became both a Kennedy Center honoree and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee throughout his career. He also pitched the idea for 1985's charity hit "We Are the World," as chronicled in the recent documentary The Greatest Night in Pop.
In addition to introducing calypso music to a wide audience, Harry was a dedicated activist in the civil rights movement and helped organize many participants of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
"He is the one that created Artists and Athletes Against Apartheid bringing light to the plight of apartheid and the incarceration of Nelson Mandela in South Africa," wrote Shari. "He was the ambassador to Unicef for well over 30 years; received accolades from around the world for not just participating, but for starting movements for the betterment of humanity."
"While no doubt Tony Bennett, Tina Turner and others were special indeed and deserved a spotlight on the Grammys, I believe the Grammys also missed an opportunity to remind the world that there was another great artist and humanitarian," concluded her essay. "But he was sadly overlooked … as so many people of color still are."
During the 2024 Grammys' "In Memoriam" segment, musicians Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox, Wendy & Lisa, Jon Batiste, Ann Nesby, Cory Henry, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Fantasia Barrino and Adam Blackstone delivered performances in tribute to Turner, Bennett, O'Connor and Avant.
Reps for Harry confirmed in an April press release that Belafonte died "of congestive heart failure at his New York home at the age of 96, his wife Pamela [Frank] by his side."
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