>>>What got my attention more than anything in your post was your posting the Harry Belafonte Carnegie Hall concert.
I have personal connections to both of these things. My personal connections greatly strengthens my connection to your post.
Let me say, first off, the point that I want to make is that I believe that this album is a big part of why we are all here.
This album “legitimized” the kind of music we like. By saying that this album “legitimized” this kind of music, I am saying that because rich, powerful, and smart people bought this album, and listened to it, got some very great legs.<<<
Interesting as is usually the case with your longer posts, Max, but I have to take exception to some of the factual points you want to make here.
Belafonte at Carnegie Hall is indeed a great and impactful album, but more because it was the first live performance album to be certified gold. However, in Belafonte's career, it is roughly analogous to the KT's Last Month or Make Way, which were the KT's first two studio albums not to hit #1 (they were #11 and #2 respectively) - this after the five consecutive #1 studio albums and the 4 in the top ten in November/December 1959.
Belafonte dominated the album charts in 1956 and 1957. In '56, he had the #1 album for 17 weeks, six with the green Belafonte album and 11 with the giant Calypso album, which was the top selling album of the year and which returned in 1957 to be #1 for an astounding 20 weeks, from early January to late May. It was this second run that solidified that LP as the first certified million seller - all before the KT had had its first professional engagement.
The Trio, of course, was no slouch in the same category. In just the latter half of 1959, the KT had the #1 album for 18 of the 26 weeks, with At Large there for 15 consecutive weeks and HWGA for 5 and continuing for the first 5 weeks of 1960. That year, Sold Out hit #1 for 9 weeks midyear, and String Along followed with 5 weeks in the top spot in early autumn - giving the guys 19 of the 52 weeks with the top album in the country.
So - if anything that Harry B ever did helped legitimatize folk music, it was the Calypso album and not the 3 years later Carnegie Hall offering.
Even at that, however, and even given the fact that Belafonte's debut album Mark Twain and Other Folk Songs hit the #3 spot in 1953, you have to turn to The Weavers as the primary force taking folk music mainstream. They sold over six million records between 1950 and early 1952 (amazing for that time), all singles in the pre-LP days and all traditional songs if overly orchestrated, and they roared back from the blacklist with the 1956 The Weavers At Carnegie Hall, which remains the one single indispensable album of the pop folk era, the one that set the template for everyone else who followed - and a great, great album it was, too, with instrumental and vocal arrangements that the KT 1957-57 never matched, something Bob Shane himself has freely and dispassionately acknowledged.
Some other points in your post are worth discussing as well, but whatever the charms of Carnegie may be, folk as pop was fully legitimatized as above before its release.
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