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"Matilda" is a calypso (sometimes spelled Mathilda) lamenting a woman who took a man for all he was worth.

The song dates back to at least the 1930s, when calypso pioneer King Radio (the stage name of Norman Span) recorded the song. It became a hit in 1953 when it was recorded by Harry Belafonte. Songwriting credit is conventionally given as Harry Thomas. Sometimes additional names are listed, including Belafonte's.

The first recording of the song by Harry Belafonte was on April 27, 1953,[640864] becoming his first full-release single. The oft-repeated phrase in his rendition of the song is like the following, emphasizing the syllables of the subject's name as shown:

Hey! Ma-til-da; Ma-til-da; Ma-til-da, she take me money and run a-Venezuelamarker.


The song was often performed in concerts, and the audience would be encouraged to sing that line. An example is in his Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall concert album where the total playing time for "Matilda" is 13 minutes.

Allen Sherman recorded a variation of the song in his first album, 1962's My Son, the Folk Singer, and put a Jewish-sounding spin on it, including asking portions of his audience (such as "Members of Hadassah") to sing along:

Oy! My Zel-da; My Zel-da; My Zel-da, she took the money and ran with the tailor.


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