Singer, actor, and human rights activist Harry Belafonte passed away Tuesday at the age of 96 years old.

Belafonte's publicist says he passed away at his home in New York due to congestive heart failure.

It was the mid 1950s when Belafonte burst onto the sing, singing with his shirt unbuttoned to his chest, with the iconic calypso song Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).

"The song is a work song," Belafonte told NPR in a 2011 interview. "It's about men who sweat all day long, and they are underpaid. They're begging for the tallyman to come and give them an honest count: 'Count the bananas that I've picked so I can be paid.' When people sing in delight and dance and love it, they don't really understand unless they study the song — that they're singing a work song that's a song of rebellion."

Belafonte served in the United States Navy through World War II after he dropped out of high school, and after his discharge worked as a custodian's assistant. A friend gave him tickets to a performance at the American Negro Theatre, where he eventually would join to learn to perform.

2016 Library Lions Gala
Getty Images

In his time at the American Negro Theatre, he trained alongside and befriended Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee. From there, he began singing in clubs and got himself a record deal.

According to NPR, Belafonte was friends with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and was in fact one of his closest friends. Belafonte had a hand in helping organize the Freedom March in Washington D.C. where King delivered the iconic I Have A Dream speech.

In his career, Harry Belafonte reached EGOT status, meaning he won an award for each performance category - an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. He was revered in whatever field he endeavored.

Belafonte was 96.

LOOK: 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the US

From secret gardens to underground caves, Stacker compiled a list of 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the United States using travel guides, news articles, and company websites.

More From 97X