SEPTEMBER 12, 1958
SEPTEMBER 12, 1958
MOSCOW—Although this article is being written in the Soviet capital, I am not yet prepared to tell you anything about my second visit to the Soviet Union because so many details have still to be worked out. So, I am going to describe some more of the things I saw at the Bussels world's fair in this column and perhaps the next one or two.
Last Friday evening we saw a gala performance by our Mr. Harry Belafonte at the American Theater. I doubt if the theater in the exhibition grounds has had such a crowded house for any previous performance. Tickets were at a premium and it was an international audience.
Of course, Mr. Belafonte has learned to give his performance with all the possible stage effects that light and suspense can create, and he is not just a singer of folk songs-"The King of Calypso," as he is sometimes called-but he is really an artist and an extremely good actor. He somehow wins his audience, before even beginning to sing, by merely coming on the stage and looking at the people with confidence in their understanding, sympathy and appreciation.
His program was in three parts-first, songs entitled "Moods of the American Negro," then in Act II, "Songs of the Caribbean." And I think there were songs in both these acts that were understood and appreciated by men and women of all nations. His final act, then, was entitled , "Songs Around the World," and he sang songs in French, in Spanish, in Hebrew, and some, I am glad to say, in English. This was the highlight of the program.
He was received with tremendous applause and came back and did one encore. I think the audience would have brought him back indefinitely, though the house was already very late, but the management firmly turned the lights on, so the crowd had to leave.
After the concert we went to a reception for Mr. and Mrs. Belafonte, and I think every American there wanted to tell him how proud we were of his accomplishments. He is showing Europe on his present tour, just as Mr. Williom Warfleld is, that at least artists in the United States can come to prominence and be popular, regardless of race or color.