Harry Belafonte introduced the Steel Drum

Harry Belafonte (born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr.; March 1, 1927 – April 25, 2023) was an American singer, activist, and actor. As arguably the most successful Caribbean-American pop star of his time, he popularized Jamaican mento folk songs which was marketed as Trinbagonian Calypso musical style with an international audience in the 1950s. (Wikipedia)

Steel Drum

Harry Belafonte was often accompanied by the steel drum. He was one of the first artists to popularize the steel drum in the United States, and he often used it in his performances and recordings. Some of his most famous songs that feature the steel drum include “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)”, “Jump in the Line (Shake Señora)”, and “Island in the Sun”.

Belafonte’s use of the steel drum helped to introduce the instrument to a wider audience, and it is now one of the most popular instruments in Caribbean music.

The steel drum, also known as the pan, is a percussion instrument that originated in Trinidad and Tobago in the early 20th century. It is made from steel drums, which are large oil drums that have been hammered into a concave shape. The steel drum is played by striking it with rubber-tipped mallets. The different pitches of the steel drum are created by hammering different areas of the drum. The steel drum is a versatile instrument that can be used to play a variety of music, including calypso, soca, and jazz.

The steel drum has a long and rich history. It is believed to have originated from the African talking drums, which were brought to Trinidad and Tobago by enslaved Africans. In the early 20th century, young people in Trinidad and Tobago began to experiment with playing music on discarded oil drums. They found that by hammering the drums in different ways, they could create different pitches. This led to the development of the steel drum, which quickly became a popular instrument in Trinidad and Tobago.

Steel Drum

In the 1950s, the steel drum began to gain popularity in the United States. Harry Belafonte was one of the first artists to popularize the steel drum in the US. He often used the steel drum in his performances and recordings, and he helped to introduce the instrument to a wider audience.

Today, the steel drum is a popular instrument all over the world. It is used in a variety of musical genres, including calypso, soca, jazz, and reggae. The steel drum is also a popular instrument in schools and community groups. It is a versatile and accessible instrument that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte was born in Harlem, New York City, to Jamaican parents. His mother was the child of a Scottish Jamaican mother and an Afro-Jamaican father, and his father was the child of a Black American mother and a Dutch-Jewish father of Sephardic Jewish descent. Harry, Jr. was raised Catholic. From 1932 to 1940, Belafonte lived with one of his grandmothers in her native country of Jamaica, where he attended Wolmer’s Schools.

Banana Boat

Belafonte is considered one of the most important figures in the folk music scene of the 1950s. He was a key figure in popularizing Caribbean folk songs, such as calypso, with an international audience. He was also a successful actor and activist, and he was involved in various social causes, notably the civil rights movement.

Belafonte died on April 25, 2023, at the age of 96. He was a groundbreaking artist and activist who left a lasting legacy on American culture.

Banana Boat Song

With the refrain,

Day-O, day-ay-ay-o Daylight come and me wan’ go home

(From google Bard)

The Banana Boat Song was used in the movie Beetlejuice as a way to introduce the character of Beetlejuice. The song was played at the beginning of the movie, when Beetlejuice first arrives at the Maitlands’ house. The song helps to set the tone for the movie, which is both funny and spooky. It also helps to introduce Beetlejuice’s character, who is a mischievous and playful ghost.

The song is also used later in the movie, when Beetlejuice is trying to scare the Deetz family. The song is played at a louder volume, and it helps to create a sense of chaos and excitement. The song also helps to show Beetlejuice’s power, as he is able to control the music and the environment around him.

Overall, the Banana Boat Song is used in the movie Beetlejuice in a variety of ways. It is used to introduce the character of Beetlejuice, to set the tone for the movie, and to show Beetlejuice’s power. The song is a classic example of calypso music, and it helps to make the movie Beetlejuice a fun and memorable experience.


Beetlejuice is a 1988 American fantasy comedy film directed by Tim Burton, produced by Michael McDowell and Danny Elfman, written by McDowell and Warren Skaaren, and starring Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Jeffrey Jones, and Martin Short. The film is about a recently deceased couple, Barbara and Adam Maitland, who become ghosts haunting their former home, which is soon bought by the recently arrived Deetz family. The Maitlands call upon Beetlejuice, a bio-exorcist, to scare the Deetz family out of the house, but the plan backfires and Beetlejuice tries to claim the Maitlands’ souls.

Beetlejuice was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $75 million worldwide against a production budget of $25 million. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Art Direction and Best Makeup. It has since become a cult classic, and has been praised for its dark humor, visual style, and performances.

Beetlejuice is a unique and memorable film that has stood the test of time. It is a must-see for fans of Tim Burton, fantasy, and comedy.

Harry Belafonte in Tokyo

Harry performed the Banana Boat song to a rapt audience in Tokyo in 1960.