Harry Belafonte and Charles White maintained a longstanding friendship and the singer/civil rights activist owned several of White signature works, including 'Song', a depiction of a singing guitarist. Belafonte had owned the work since at least as early as the mid 1950s, and it appeared in the background of a portrait of the singer and his wife, Julie Robinson, used on this cover of Ebony magazine, July 1957. White had provided illustrations for several publications on Belafonte, so it was no surprise when, in 2001, White’s work (owned by Belafonte) was used on the cover of The Long Road to Freedom: An Anthology of Black Music, an extraordinary, ambitious box set that was Belafonte’s brainchild and labour of love.
‘Song’, subsequently known as 'Goodnight Irene' 1952 was as mentioned earlier in these notes, in the Collection of Belafonte. Its name came from probably the most famous and celebrated song by the blues musician and singer Huddie William Ledbette (1888 – 1949), who was better known by the name Lead Belly.
The painting 'Goodnight Irene' (119.4 x 61 cm / 47 x 24 in.), oil on canvas, is now in the collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, purchased 2014.