Harry Belafonte’s daughters have criticised the 2024 Grammys for not including their late father, the Grammy-winning singer and activist who died aged 96 in April 2023, in a special tribute during the ceremony.
Midway through the Sunday (4 February) awards show, Annie Lennox, Stevie Wonder, Fantasia Barrino and Jon Batiste took to the stage to honour some of the major music industry titans who had passed away in 2023.
During their performances, photos of other artists who had died last year were displayed on-screen behind them.
Among those commemorated were Sinead O’Connor, Tina Turner, Tony Bennett and Clarence Avant.
While an image of Belafonte was briefly shown on the screen as Batiste performed Frank Sinatra and Count Basie’s 1959 hit “The Best Is Yet to Come”, his two daughters felt the tribute fell short.
Shari, 69, and Gina, 62, took to social media to say that they felt their “Banana Boat (Day-O)” singer father should have received a special standout tribute similar to those that honoured Turner, O’Connor, Bennett and Avant.
“While the folks who had a bit more of a #shoutout on the #GrammyAwards this year were absolutely deserving of accolades, I’m a bit appalled that our father was not included in a #SpecialTribute and I’m not just saying that because he was our father,” Shari wrote on Facebook.
“#HarryBelafonte was the very FIRST recipient of a platinum record. Was the very FIRST Black man to get an #Emmy. Is one of 20 people to have an #EGOT. Harry is THE one who created #WeAreTheWorld, and yes, I was at the table when he first pitched the idea to Ken Kragen.”
She added: “While no doubt, Tony Bennett and Tina Turner were special indeed, Harry contributed far more to society and the music industry than those two put together, in my humble opinion. The Grammys missed a major moment.”
In a similar Facebook post alongside a photo of Belafonte, Gina said: “Love @itstonybennett Love @tinaturner Love @sinadeocconor. Why the @recordingacademy Chose not to do a special tribute to you I will #never understand!
“So here is my Grammy tribute to you dad! So many winners you’ve mentored! So many winners you shared your stage with. You are the winner @theharrybelafonte and we are better because of your contribution! Belafonte’s career breakthrough album Calypso (1956) was the first million-selling LP by a single artist.”
The Independent has contacted the Grammys Recording Academy for comment.
Belafonte, who passed away in Manhattan on 25 April 2023, is widely considered the most successful Caribbean-American pop star.
He is credited with bringing the Calypso musical style from its Trinidad and Tobago roots to an international audience in the 1950s.
He is survived by his third wife, photographer Pamela Frank, four children – Adrienne, Shari, David and Gina – and five grandchildren.