(NAPSI)—If you’re like most Americans, you may be surprised to learn just where some of the best-known and beloved calypso songs originated.
Though such songs as “Day-O,” “Jamaica Farewell,” “Island in the Sun” and many more may sound like they sprang up from roving troubadours, they were all written by the same man, in many ways the fruit of his remarkable life.
The Man And His Times
Irving Burgie was born in Brooklyn in 1924, served in WWII and went to the prestigious Juilliard music school on the GI Bill. In the 1950s he was a professional singer and guitarist at The Blue Angel, the Village Vanguard and many other famous venues. Then he met singer Harry Belafonte. Their association landed the album “Calypso” at No. 1 on the Billboard charts for 32 weeks and it became the first to sell a million copies. In all, Burgie wrote three calypso albums for Harry Belafonte: “Calypso” (1956), “Belafonte Sings of the Caribbean” (1957) and “Jump Up Calypso” (1961).
His songs, which notably include “Mary’s Boy Child,” a Christmas evergreen, have sold over 100 million copies all over the world, as well as being featured on Broadway, TV shows, in movies and in many places where people love to sing.
In the 1960s, Burgie wrote the national anthem for the then newly independent island of Barbados, his mother’s homeland. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007.
Now his life and career are chronicled in his autobiography, “Day-O!!!.” The book is set amid a wider social tapestry that depicts the plight, joys and foibles of one black family growing up in prewar Brooklyn and the broader black struggle leading up to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s. It documents his meteoric rise to the top echelons of the music business as the songwriter who composed for Harry Belafonte, The Kingston Trio and many more.
As for great songs and songwriters to come, Lord Burgie, as he’s also called, has had a hand in that, too. In his honor, The ASCAP Foundation established the Irving Burgie Scholarship, funded by Burgie and presented annually to an African-American songwriter from New York City.
For further facts and to hear his songs, go to www.irvingburgie.com. Burgie’s autobiography, songbook, CDs and documentary DVD are available @ Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)