Over my lifetime with my father, in both of its iterations personal and professional, there was always a thread that wound its way through everything… His celebrity.
When you are a child, life is what it is. Very little reflection on what is simply “normal”. It wasn’t until my young adult years that I began to look at who he was (is) as I began to face the challenges of my own early discovery of who I was to become in the world.
Outside of the home nowhere was safe from the intrusion of “outsiders” who understandably were compelled to approach or at least acknowledge Harry. Of greater note was the diversity of his audience and fan base. Across remarkable age, gender, race, nationality, economic, and political boundaries. Inside of the home there was a seemingly endless stream of calls, meetings, and social gatherings most often centered around a mission.
The concert touring years spanned most continents over decades, and the humanitarian efforts rode in tandem on a global scale as well. The circumstances surrounding Harry’s ascendancy made for a very unique place on the map of popular culture. Never, that I know of anyway, was it duplicated or even replicated in any way worth noting.
Most of my professional life has been in service of the mission(s), both artistic and humanitarian. During my years at Belafonte Enterprises I was the “guy behind the guy” as we navigated endless possibilities and overtures from all over the proverbial map.
As BFF grew from an idea to a reality, until recently, we of course had no way of knowing how the concept would be received outside of our inner circle. We have made, and continue to make, a concerted effort that the foundation name in no way implies access to Harry… and dispel any notion that the foundation is launching with coffers filled with millions of “Belafonte dollars” that have been earmarked for the tasks at hand. We have to fundraise.
Anyone who has followed Harry both artistically and politically knows that money was rarely if ever the driver… The Art? The content and its message was always the determining factor. The Socio/Politics? Always addressing some aspect of the human condition. PERIOD. The Civil Rights Movement, The Peace Corps, Anti-Apartheid, We Are the World/USA for Africa.
When you wrap the aforementioned around his aura and stature as a man… it makes for a compelling package and story. The challenge… To capture, infuse, and translate that story and presence into an effective institutional platform that will tap into the (apparent) goodwill and support of the public and institutions at large. How to make the legacy and its path forward as clear as possible for next generations.
I write this as we enter the next phase of BFF’s journey. Our initial announcement is out and finding its way into the world. What the response will be, only time is going to tell, but the line has been cast and we must now follow the wave, wherever that leads us.