An Evening with Belafonte and Makeba


An Evening with Belafonte and Makeba is world class music. Two of the best Afro/Caribbean voices teams up for a soulful duo. The vocal blends are flawless and the melodies haunting and soothing. This album is a classic which will enrich anyone’s music collection.

This collection of songs was actually one of the top sellers of it’s genre in the Sixties. The melodies, all of which stem from South African tribal songs, are treated lovingly to sensitive new arrangements. It goes without saying that the producers only wanted a minimum of background instrumentalists for these two star singers in order to preserve the original character of the songs. A little bit of guitar here, a touch of mouth organ there, and the soft rhythm of drums are all that are needed for the soft springy sound. Central to the authentic sound is a mixed chorus that mostly uses the traditional art of antiphonal singing with the soloists.


In the mid-1960s, Belafonte was very active in supporting emerging African artists as well as making African music known worldwide, and An Evening with Belafonte and Makeba is an example of this activity. It includes classical African songs such as Malaika (with the English title My Angel) as well as songs in African languages such as Zulu, Sotho and Swahili.

Belafonte was the first African American to win an Emmy, for Tonight with Belafonte (1959). During the 1960s he introduced several artists to American audiences, most notably South African singer Miriam Makeba and the first-ever record appearance by a young harmonica player named Bob Dylan.

The Grammy Award-winning An Evening with Belafonte and Makeba 1965 album by Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba delt with the political plight of Black South Africans under Apartheid. It was the second outcome of the long lasting collaboration between Belafonte and Makeba, the first being the appearance of Makeba in the song “Just One More Dance” on Belafonte’s 1960 album, Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall.

Despite the title, the album is not a collection of live duet performances by Harry Belafonte and Makeba. It is a studio album of 12 tracks, five by Belafonte, five by Makeba, and two duets. The songs are all South African traditional tunes sung in tribal languages such as Xhosa and Zulu.