Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Belafonte to Open U.S. Tour Here

Cleveland Press June 2, 1966

His voice over the phone was husky, almost gravely; a condition which Harry Belafonte explained away by saying that he had just awakened and he always sounds that way in the morning.

"My voice has been kind of husky all my life," he added. "Someone at RCA Records said that if it ever clears up we all lose a fortune."

Belafonte will make one of his infrequent Cleveland appearances when he opens a one-week stand at Musicarnival Monday evening. Cleveland will be the first stop in a 16-week summer tour he said.

"No, there's nothing new in my playing the tents," he continued. "I've played them before and I've done theater in the round before.

"I'M PLAYING the United States this year," he went on, explaining that he alternates between the U. S. and foreign tours for a year at a time.

"AT THE END of this summer I'll take the family to South America. We'll live there for a while. No, this won't be the regular tour. I like to get the feel of a country before I play there. Then I plan my program. It's the sort of thing you can't get second-hand."

Singer Belafonte started as an actor, has a member of the American Negro Theater at the same time as Sidney Poitier, later joined the Dramatic Workshop. Fellow students there were Marlon Brando and Tony Curtis.

He has mixed movies and plays in his career since, says that he hopes to do something on Broadway this winter.

"Sure, acting still interests me. Sidney Poitier and I were talking the other day about how the two of us could do a show like 'Odd Couple'."

"THERE JUST AREN'T many plays. The Negro playwrights are not doing very much, and the white playwrights are still reflecting their own problems."

BELAFONTE SINGS a mixture of pop and folk music, some of the latter authentic, parts of it commercial. If there's a formula for maintaining his appeal, as the publicity material about him claims, it is not one that he can easily explain.

"I guess it's something that's just evolved. Some of it is luck, part of it is conscious effort. I suppose the selection of material is most important. I'm not negating other factors, but the songs generally reflect things that people can identify with."

Belafonte is involved in other activities besides performing and recording. He is a cultural adviser to the Peace Corps, is a leading member of civil rights groups.

"The time? I take afternoons off to lecture wherever I'm performing. No, no one in Cleveland has asked me to lecture. Tell you what happens though. They generally wait until my last afternoon in town to call."