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Biography

The Belafonte Folk Singers (originally known as The Belafonte Singers) were a vocal group who were active from 1957 to 1965. They were named after singer Harry Belafonte, for whom they originally formed in order to serve as a backing group. The group was mostly led and conducted by Robert De Cormier, usually billed as Robert Corman. Milt Okun sometimes conducted the group as well.

The Belafonte Folk Singers usually consisted of 11-12 singers and musicians at one time, all male. Its members were mostly African American, although the group also included white members. The group had high turnover, and around 40 singers were a part of the group at one time or another during its lifetime. Garrett Morris performed with the group early in his career.

The group released three of their own albums, and sang backup on five albums by Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba.

Alumni of The Belafonte Folk Singers went on to form the De Cormier Singers, The Phoenix Singers and the Seafarers Chorus.

The Belafonte Folk Singers won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording at the 4th Annual Grammy Awards for their 1961 album Belafonte Folk Singers at Home and Abroad. Two other albums on which they appeared won the same award: the 1960 Harry Belafonte album Swing Dat Hammer and the 1965 album An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba.

Robert De Cormier (January 7, 1922 – November 7, 2017) was an American musical conductor, arranger, and director. He arranged music for many singers and groups, including Harry Belafonte and Peter, Paul, and Mary, and worked with Milt Okun.

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