sing-your-song-hbo-documentariesAs per Ush, HBO folks with interesting documentaries: During the course of an inspiring life that has paralleled the American civil rights movement, artist and crusader Harry Belafonte has tirelessly used his humanitarian influence to advance causes of social justice, while forging a unique career punctuated by prestigious awards and industry firsts. Filmmaker Susanne Rostock tells the rich life story of this remarkable artist and humanitarian in the intimate feature-length documentary SING YOUR SONG, debuting Monday, October 17 (10:00-11:45 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

Other  HBO  playdates:    Oct.  20  (4:00  p.m.,  1:00  a.m.),  23  (3:45  p.m.),  26  (11:30 a.m.) and 29 (8:45 a.m.)
HBO2 playdates:  Oct. 22 (6:00 a.m.), 26 (8:00 p.m.) and 30 (10:30 p.m.)

Watch HBO Documentary Sing Your Song Video Trailer

Coinciding  with  the  HBO  debut  of  SING  YOUR  SONG,  Belafonte’s  memoir,  “My Song,” will be published by Knopf Oct. 11 while a companion music album, entitled “Sing Your Song:  The Music,” will be released by Sony Masterworks Oct. 4.

Groundbreaking singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte rose to fame in the U.S. in spite  of  segregation,  and  crossed  over  into  mainstream  America  on  his  way  to international stardom.  His hit 1956 album “Calypso” made him the first artist in industry history to sell over a million LPs, and spawned the smash single “Banana Boat (Day-O).”
Though  recognized  with  Grammy,  Tony  and  Emmy®  awards,  Belafonte  was  blacklisted, harassed by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), spied on by the CIA and FBI, and threatened by the Klan, state troopers and Las Vegas mafia bosses.
Distilled from more than 700 hours of interviews, eyewitness accounts, movie clips, excerpts from FBI files, and news and rare archival film footage and stills, some of which has  never  been  seen  before,  SING  YOUR  SONG  reveals  Belafonte  as  a  tenacious hands-on  activist  who  worked  intimately  with  Dr.  Martin  Luther  King,  Jr.,  mobilized celebrities for social justice, participated in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa and took action to counter gang violence, prisons and the incarceration of youth.
In  addition  to  Belafonte,  those  interviewed  in  SING  YOUR  SONG  include:    Tony Bennett,  Diahann  Carroll,  Ruby  Dee,  Whoopi  Goldberg,  Quincy  Jones,  Coretta  Scott King,  Rep.  John  Lewis,  Miriam  Makeba,  Nelson  Mandela,  Sidney  Poitier,  George Schlatter, Tom Smothers, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Andrew Young, as well as his children  Adrienne  Belafonte  Biesemeyer,  David  Belafonte,  Gina  Belafonte  (one  of  the film’s  producers)  and  Shari  Belafonte,  former  wife  Julie  Belafonte  and  current  wife Pamela Belafonte.
Following an early performance by Belafonte at the Village Vanguard in New York City,  his  mentor,  the  great  singer  and  actor  Paul  Robeson,  offered  this  counsel:    “Get them to sing your song and they will want to know who you are.”
Born  into  a  rough  Harlem  neighborhood  in  1927,  Belafonte’s  immigrant  mother sent  him  to  be  raised  in  her  native  Jamaica  in  an  effort  to  ensure  his  safety;  there  he developed  a  cultural  reservoir  on  which  to  build  future  artistic  success.    Upon  the outbreak of World War II, he returned to Harlem, and later enlisted in the United States Navy, serving for almost two years as a munitions loader.
Returning  to  New  York  City,  Belafonte  worked  in  the  garment  center  and  as  a janitor’s assistant.  As gratuity for one apartment repair job, Belafonte was given a ticket to a production of “Home Is the Hunter” at the American Negro Theatre (ANT) in Harlem, which sparked a desire for a life in the performing arts.

Joining  the  Dramatic  Workshop  of  the  New  School  of  Social  Research  under  the tutelage  of  renowned  German  director  Erwin  Piscator,  Belafonte  attended  class  with fellow future stars like Marlon Brando, Walter Matthau, Bea Arthur, Rod Steiger and Tony Curtis.  He immersed himself in the world of theatre and found “a place of social truth and
profound  influence,”  compelling  him  to  make  a  commitment  to  use  art  as  a  source  of inspiration to others, as well as an instrument of resistance and rebellion and a counter to racism.
Paralleling  his  pursuit  of  acting,  an  interest  in  jazz  spurred  him  to  develop  a relationship  with  pioneers  of  the  art  form.    In  his  first  professional  appearance,  he performed with jazz titans Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Tommy Potter and Al Haig as his “back-up band.”
His first Broadway appearance, in “John Murray Anderson’s Almanac,” earned him a Tony Award.  As the first black producer in television, he won an Emmy® for his network production of “An Evening with Belafonte,” directed by Norman Jewison.  At the dawning of  his  film  career,  “Carmen  Jones”  took  top  critical  honors,  garnering  two  Oscar®
nominations  and  winning  the  Golden  Globe  award  for  Best  Motion  Picture (Musical/Comedy).
In  SING  YOUR  SONG,  Belafonte  observes  that  while  building a career,  raising  a family  and  enjoying  his  successes,  there  were  always  the  larger  concerns  for  freedom, justice, equality and human dignity.  Since childhood, his mother impressed upon him that he should never awaken in a day when there wasn’t something on his agenda that would help set the course for the undermining of injustice.  That larger concern at the center of his life and work connected him deeply with his mentor Robeson, a renaissance man of immense talents who sacrificed everything in the fight for freedom and justice.
Belafonte’s  compassion  and  ardor  also  drew  him  to  Dr.  Martin  Luther  King,  Jr., who  once  said  of  his  friend,  “Belafonte’s  global  popularity  and  his  commitment  to  our cause  is  a  key  ingredient  to  the  global  struggle  for  freedom  and  a  powerful  tactical weapon in the civil rights movement here in America.  We are blessed by his courage and moral integrity.”
Like Robeson before him, Belafonte has paid a price for his activism.  Rather than compromise  with  bigotry  and  prejudice,  he  walked  away  from  the  money  and  exposure that  compromise  would  have  afforded  him,  for  example,  when  sponsors  of  the groundbreaking  and  hugely  popular  television  specials  “Tonight  with  Belafonte”  (1959) and  “Belafonte,  New  York  19”  (1960)  balked  at  his  racially  integrated  casts.    Similar battles  with  Hollywood  film  producers  over  content  and  race  led  him  to  turn  down  other lucrative offers.
SING  YOUR  SONG  was  presented  at  the  2011  Sundance  Film  Festival  and  the 2011 Berlin Film Festival, as well as the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.
HBO  Documentary  Films  and  Michael  Cohl  present  a  Belafonte  Enterprises  and S2BN Entertainment Production in association with Julius R. Nasso Productions; a film by Susanne Rostock; produced by Michael Cohl, Gina Belafonte, Jim Brown, William Eigen and Julius R. Nasso; co-produced by Sage Scully; edited by Susanne Rostock and Jason L. Pollard; consultant, Karol Martesko-Fenster; music composed by Hahn Rowe.

What do you think? Will you watch Sing Your Song on HBO? Let me know in the comments section.

Also, remeber to follow me on Twitter for more HBO Documentaries scoop.