When the Brilliant Lecture Series presents “A Conversation with Harry Belafonte” on Feb. 23, Yvonne Cormier, MD, Ph.D., will join the acclaimed entertainer and humanitarian onstage to facilitate that conversation. In an intimate, interview-style setting in Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater, the award-winning, ground-breaking artist and activist will field questions posed by Dr. Cormier, a noted physician, philanthropist and community servant, in what is scheduled to be a 90-minute dialogue.
“The addition of Dr. Cormier to this program brings a special touch to an already extraordinary evening,” observes Brilliant Lecture Series Founder and Executive Director Scott Brogan. “Her academic pursuits, in combination with her personal and professional endeavors, reflect her compassion for others and her willingness to help and heal, wherever and whenever she can. Her deep Texas roots make her the perfect choice to help us welcome Mr. Belafonte as we create an elegant yet understated evening honoring his remarkable talent and intellect.”
Yvonne Cormier was born in Abbeville, Louisiana, and grew up in Beaumont, graduating from Hebert High School. She would later graduate from Southern Methodist University and fulfill degree programs for her Ph. D. in biochemical pharmacology at Brown University and Yale University. Her medical degree and residency were completed in Houston at Baylor College of Medicine, where she served as chief resident. She is currently on staff in the Anesthesia Department at Memorial Hermann Memorial City. Her service as a volunteer medical professional includes travel to South America and the Caribbean to perform medical services with Operation San Jose and Jamaica Outreach.
“On this very special night, in a remarkable setting in the city that has become my home, I will stand in the presence of my friends, my colleagues and hundreds of Mr. Belafonte’s other admirers and put the spotlight on this man who has brought joy, comfort and relief to people all over the world,” said Cormier. “I consider this is a unique honor and a big responsibility.”
Harry Belafonte Jr. is a humanitarian and political activist known best as a singer from the 1950s who started the craze for Caribbean-inflected music. Born in 1927 in New York City, the son of a Jamaican mother and Martiniquan father, Belafonte was sent to live with his grandmother in Jamaica from 1932-1940. When he returned, a gift of two theatre tickets served as the catalyst for a performing career that would span decades.
His first album “Calypso” sold over 1 million copies in 1956. Crowned the “King of Calypso,” he continued to perform throughout the late ’50s and ’60s until the Beatles were introduced in the States and changed the face of music.
Early in his career, Belafonte became an activist, and his success propelled his support for political and humanitarian activities. An ardent advocate for America’s civil rights movement, Belafonte became close friends with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In the ’70s and ’80s, Belafonte continued performing around the world, furthered his acting and recording careers and turned his focus to the conditions of the African people. He organized the USA for Africa effort, launched a campaign for the awareness of Rwanda and later supported initiatives against AIDS in Africa. For his efforts, he was awarded the Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award.
Belafonte has four children and currently resides in New York City with wife, Pamela.
Dr. Yvonne Cormier
Tickets for “A Conversation with Harry Belafonte,” presented by HEB, are available now through www.BrilliantLectures.org. Prices begin at $35 and a limited number of VIP tickets are offered at $250 each, which include Premiere Seating, an invitation to a private, pre-program reception with Belafonte and an autographed copy of his book “My Song: A Memoir.” Tickets to the Private Patron Dinner, held immediately following the show, are available for $500 by calling (713) 974-1335 or e-mailing info@BrilliantLectures.org. All tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable.
To learn more about this event and other upcoming productions, visit Brilliant online.