City College Celebrates Harry Belafonte at 91



A special evening of songs and stories entitled Turn the World Around: The Music and Legacy of Harry Belafonte is being hosted by City College Center for the Arts on March 1st in celebration of Harry Belafonte’s 91st Birthday!

The concert will feature songs made famous by the iconic trailblazer performed by members of the Belafonte Alumni Group –a collection of performers who have shared the stage with Mr. Belafonte for decades. Featured performers include Ty Stephens, Branice McKenzie, Sam McKelton, and more, under the musical direction of Richard Cummings Jr., musical director for Mr. Belafonte.

“This production is part of the development of an ongoing tour of this material designed to expose audiences everywhere to Harry’s music and to his amazing life. There is no one carrying his musical legacy forward, thus far. It’s up to us,” stated Ty Stephens, event organizer and member of the Belafonte Alumni Group.

Twenty-eight years ago, Harry Belafonte gathered a committee of artists, community leaders, and politicians responsible for creating one of the most memorable events in the history of Aaron Davis Hall. The event was a special ABC Nightline Town Hall Meeting with Ted Koppel and Mr. Nelson Mandela. We have never forgotten all that Mr. Belafonte has done for Aaron Davis Hall and this community and it is only fitting we participate in this special celebration in his honor,” said CCCA Managing Director Gregory Shanck.

Turn the World Around: The Music and Legacy of Harry Belafonte will take place on Thursday, March 1st at 7:30pm at City College Center for the Arts, Aaron Davis Hall, 129 Convent Avenue at 135th Street.

For details and tickets….

And here is a little information about The Belafonte Alumni Group ~

The Belafonte Alumni Group includes music director Richard Cummings Jr., vocalists Ty Stephens and Branice McKenzie, and production manager Steven R. Jones, who together have dedicated more than 50 years to supporting the great work of Harry Belafonte from one corner of the world to the other. The Belafonte Alumni Group was organized to celebrate the iconic performer—his music, his commitment, and his courage to create a world of compassion, insight, equity and service. Journalist and broadcaster Daa’iya El-Sanusi and a host of rotating artists who have performed with Belafonte through the years are also part of the group.

Richard Cummings Jr. is a pianist, composer, arranger and conductor who worked as musical director for Harry Belafonte for nearly two decades. He has performed and recorded with Mr. Belafonte as well as with Dianne Reeves, Letta Mbulu, Hugh Masekela, Wayne Shorter, Melvin Van Peebles, Jon Lucien, and many others.

Branice McKenzie is a vocalist and composer who has performed on stages everywhere, from Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall to New York’s Carnegie Hall. She has shared the stage with artists including Harry Belafonte, Roberta Flack, Gregory Hines, Carly Simon, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Ledisi. As a composer, her work includes the Off-Broadway hit Shades of Harlem and the upcoming family musical Planet for Children. She is an artist-in-residence at Oakland School for the Arts in California and is founding minister of music at Heart and Soul Center of Light in Oakland, California.

Ty Stephens is a vocalist and songwriter who has performed or appeared with Harry Belafonte, Gregory Hines, Phyllis Hyman, Patti Austin, Jeffrey Osborne, Smokey Robinson, Liza Minnelli, Natalie Cole, Ledisi, and more. He has appeared on Broadway in the original productions of Sophisticated Ladies and Marilyn: An American Fable and in the hit Off-Broadway show On Kentucky Avenue.