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SoundTRAX: Harry Belafonte and "Beetlejuice"

The cover of the "Beetlejuice" soundtrack has Geena Davis, Michael Keaton and Alec Baldwin pictured above the haunted house in the film.
Geffen Records
Warner Bros.

SoundTRAX is a dive into notable music from iconic films and TV shows every Monday-Thursday at 8:10.

Yesterday we learned of the passing of Harry Belafonte at the age of 96.

Talk about a life well-lived.

Yes, he was a groundbreaking artist— "The King of Calypso"— who by 1959 was the most highly paid Black performer in history, despite the widespread segregation of the time.

Belafonte's charismatic live performances inevitably led to films like Carmen Jones, Buck and the Preacher, and as recently as 2018, Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, which would be his final role.

And of course, there was his life-long commitment to activism, which included civil rights and countless humanitarian causes.

But for an entire generation, their first introduction to Harry Belafonte just may have come from the soundtrack to a certain 1988 film about a "ghost with the most."


It is impossible to think of that movie and not have his songs play in your head.

Sure, the great Danny Elfman did the score, but Belafonte steals the movie with FOUR songs, two of which landed on the official soundtrack.

Remember Winona Ryder levitating and dancing to "Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)?" Yeah, you do.

But the most iconic scene has to be the dinner party, where Catherine O'Hara's character, as well as her guests, becomes possessed.

Prepare to sing along.

In memory of the great Harry Belafonte, today's SoundTRAX selection is his 1956 classic "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" from Beetlejuice.

Mel is the WFPK morning host. Email Mel at mfisher@lpm.org.

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