Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance Paperback – November 13, 2012
|New from||Used from|
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
A New York Times Notable Book
“A brave and spellbinding memoir . . . Belafonte tells a sweeping story. . . . Surprising and revelatory.” —The Washington Post
“A gorgeous account of the large life of a Harlem boy.” —Garrison Keillor, The New York Times Book Review
“The ‘Song’ of [Belafonte’s] life has been . . . diverse, encompassing the heartbreaking ballads of poverty and loss, up-tempo pop songs of fame and wealth, and deeply felt spirituals of dedication to social justice. The world is richer for having heard them.” —The Boston Globe
“This rich memoir chronicles a lifetime of activism alongside some of history’s greatest heroes and sheds new light on moments that shaped our nation. Through it all, Harry exudes the same passion and candor I’ve experienced in our friendship and conversation over the years.” —President Bill Clinton
“Absorbing. . . . Belafonte is a man of many conflicting identities, all of which he’s needed to help change the world.” —New York magazine
“An honest, in many ways important and genuinely revelatory autobiography. . . . My Song is a more than fitting denouement for a life well lived.” —The Seattle Times
“Engrossing. . . . My Song is rich with vivid scenes of Belafonte working as an advisor, mediator, fundraiser and implementer.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Even amid the most intensely charged subject matter, Belafonte traces a path . . . with the easygoing charm of a born raconteur. Uncluttered and free of fuss, his narrative unfolds effortlessly. . . . The world may think of Belafonte as an entertainer first and an activist second, but My Song makes it engagingly, compellingly clear that he wishes his legacy to be prioritized the other way around.” —The A.V. Club
“Harry Belafonte has led an extraordinary life. . . . Some of the richest passages . . . focus on Belafonte’s social engagement.” —USA Today
“To read Harry Belafonte’s new memoir, My Song, is to discover a man who has packed enough life for ten people into eighty-four years.” —NPR/Morning Edition
“Belafonte certainly knows how to make an immediate and lasting impression. My Song follows suit with prose that’s fluid yet intensely detailed. . . . [There’s] a keen awareness of his greatness and place in history—but it’s never overbearing. After all, it’s not bragging when it’s true.” —The Austin Chronicle
“The entertainer-activist par excellence of his generation. . . . Belafonte, despite his gift for pungent soundbites, is a thoughtful man whose barbs are often tempered by nuanced observations on art, politics and race.” —The Daily Beast
“Belafonte’s story is the tale of a man who has well and truly balanced stardom and serious activism.” —The New Republic
“A story of triumph amid adversity that focuses on the intriguing personal life of one of the 20th century’s most iconic actors.” —The Root
“Bracingly opinionated autobiography from an American original, still provocative in his ninth decade .” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
About the Author
Harry Belafonte’s 1956 album Calypso made him the first artist in history to sell more than one million LPs. He has won both a Tony Award and an Emmy, and he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. He has served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and is the recipient of Kennedy Center Honors for excellence in the performing arts. He currently resides in New York City with his wife, Pamela.
Michael Shnayerson, a longtime contributing editor to Vanity Fair, is the author of Irwin Shaw; The Car That Could; The Killers Within, coauthored with Mark J. Plotkin, and Coal River, which recounted the efforts of Appalachian lawyers and grassroots groups to stop the devastating practice of mountaintop coal removal in southern West Virginia. Shnayerson’s passion for those environmental activists was one reason Harry Belafonte chose him to collaborate on his autobiography. Shnayerson lives in Bridgehampton, New York, with his daughter, Jenna.
Top customer reviews
Following the advice of his mentor Paul Robeson Jr., “Get them to sing your song, and they’ll want to know who you are,” Harry Belafonte became the first artist in history to sell more than one million LPs with his album of island songs: Calypso. Many of his songs describe the struggle of ‘people of color.’ His lifelong work as an artist and, more importantly, as an activist, sought to bridge the deep divides between races, cultures, and musical traditions.
Following Robeson’s conviction that artists are “the gatekeepers of truth,” Belafonte became a true believer of the notion that artists can make a difference. As an “engine of inspiration,” Belafonte the actor/singer/storyteller eloquently recounts his struggles, failures, setbacks, and triumphs while following his calling. He also laments that the world is still “overrun by cruelty and destruction, and as our earth disintegrates and our spirits numb, we lose moral purpose and creative vision.”
But he still believes that our best times lie ahead (as do I), and that “in the final analysis, along the way we shall be comforted by one another.”
As described in Lua's Song: Islandy Wisdom for Mainlanders:
“Though we may never fully understand the mysterious power of music, we do know that it has a crucial role in creating well-being by transcending culture, politics, race, and gender. The arts have a special way of communicating across cultural boundaries better than words. The vital and necessary ‘play’ that it encourages is essential for bringing and maintaining social balance and cultural harmony in a world of mounting stresses from ecological and financial abuses and exploitations.”
It is wrong to categorize this autobiography among the self-indulgent "books" written by too many persons in the world of entertainment (I'm still scarred by the experience of trying to trudge through Quincy Jones' narcissistic love letter to himself and have avoided these types of books like the plague). Harry Belafonte is so much more than an entertainer. Indeed, as he makes clear throughout, his celebrity gave him the means to focus his anger about racism, Jim Crow, and injustice throughout the world in constructive ways that have changed our world for the better.
Belofonte was born at the right time. He engaged in the fundamental issues dear to him and was able to exploit his talents unlike anyone before, and inspired the activism of celebrities in later generations. And we should never forget his talent and devotion to making the music of struggle and hope available and relevant to us all. This autobiography elevates our knowledge about the stories behind so many of the fundamental struggles of our age. I've listened to my Belafonte records with a depth of appreciation I never understood fully until I read My Song.