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01 December 2019 12:35

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Irving Burgie, songwriter of calypso hit ‘Day-O,’ dies at 95 | Raleigh News & Observer

Composer Irving Burgie, who helped popularise Caribbean music and co-wrote the enduring Harry Belafonte hit Day-O (The Banana Boat Song), has died at the age of 95. Day-O, written in 1952, has been ubiquitous, appearing in everything from the film and Broadway musical Beetlejuice to an E-Trade commercial. It was also the wake-up call for the astronauts on two Space Shuttle missions in the 1990s. When a superstar list of music royalty gathered to film the We Are the World video in 1985, most burst into a playful version of Day-O in between takes. Ulrika Jonsson and Denise Van Outen with Julio Iglesias, who is among the many who recorded songs written by Irving Burgie (John Rogers/PA) More Rapper Lil' Wayne used a sample of it in his song 6 Foot 7 Foot.

Many were recorded by Belafonte, including eight of the 11 songs on Belafonte's 1956 album, Calypso, the first album to sell over over a million copies in the US. Burgess also penned songs for the Kingston Trio (The Seine, El Matador and The Wanderer) and for other groups. His Jamaica Farewell has been recorded by Belafonte, Jimmy Buffett, Carly Simon, Mantovani, Miriam Makeba and Julio Iglesias. Burgie's classic Caribbean standards include such familiar hits as Island In The Sun, Angelina, and he was co-writer of Mary's Boy Child. "We write our names on history's page/With expectations great/Strict guardians of our heritage/Firm craftsmen of our fate," go some of the lines of the anthem.

American singer and composer Irving Burgie, who co-wrote Harry Belafonte's song "Day-O" (the Banana Boat Song) and swung calypso into the mainstream, has died aged 95. Burgie's death on Friday was announced at the Barbados Independence Day Parade Saturday by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley. She asked for a moment of silence for the songwriter who composed the country's national anthem. Burgie died as a result of complications from heart failure. His death was also confirmed by his son Andrew Burgie, US media reported.

He was best known as the man who helped Belafonte introduce calypso music to the mainstream. Based on a Jamaican folk song, "Day-O" was first recorded in 1952 but Burgie re-worked the lyrics for Belafonte's version on the 1956 album "Calypso". It went on to be the first full-length album ever credited with selling one million copies in the US, according to US media. Born in Brooklyn, Burgie joined the army and served in an all-black unit building a road in North Burma--now modern-day Myanmar--during World War II. After the conflict he studied at New York's prestigious Juilliard performing arts school after receiving government support for war veterans.

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Composer Irving Burgie, who helped popularize Caribbean music and co-wrote the enduring Harry Belafonte hit "Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)," has died at the age of 95. At the Barbados Independence Day Parade on Saturday, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced Burgie died Friday. "Day-O," written in 1952, has been ubiquitous, appearing in everything from the film and Broadway musical "Beetlejuice" to an E-Trade commercial. "Day-O" was also the wake-up call for the astronauts on two Space Shuttle missions in the 1990s. When a superstar list of music royalty gathered to film the "We Are the World" video in 1985, most burst into a playful version of "Day-O" in between takes. Lil' Wayne used a sample of "Day-O" in his "6 Foot 7 Foot." According to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Burgie's songs have sold over 100 million records throughout the world. Many were recorded by Belafonte, including eight of the 11 songs on Belafonte's 1956 album, "Calypso," the first album to sell over 1 million copies in the U.S. Burgess also penned songs for the Kingston Trio ("The Seine," "El Matador," and "The Wanderer") and for other groups. BLACK FRIDAY SALE Get an annual digital subscription for only $20. Act before it's gone! VIEW OFFER His "Jamaica Farewell" has been recorded by Belafonte, Jimmy Buffett, Carly Simon and others. Others who have sung his songs include Mantovani, Miriam Makeba and Julio Iglesias. Burgie's classic Caribbean standards include such familiar hits as "Island in The Sun," "Angelina," and he was co-writer of "Mary's Boy Child." He also wrote the 1963 off-Broadway musical "Ballad for Bimshire" that starred Ossie Davis. He served in an all-black U.S. Army battalion in World War II and used GI Bill funds to pay for music studies. Burgie studied at the Juilliard School of Music, University of Arizona and University of Southern California. He became a folk singer using the stage name "Lord Burgess" and performed the circuit between New York and Chicago, making his New York nightclub debut at the Village Vanguard in 1954. After announcing his death, Mottley asked for a moment of silence for the Brooklyn-born Burgie, who wrote the lyrics to the national anthem of Barbados — his mother's homeland. "We write our names on history's page/With expectations great/Strict guardians of our heritage/Firm craftsmen of our fate," go some of the lines of the anthem. The author of the lyrics of Barbados' national anthem has passed away. During yesterday's 53rd Independence Day celebrations at Kensington Oval, Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley announced that the singer and songwriter had passed in his sleep Friday night. After observing a minute of silence for the passing of this grand character of a man, Mottley called for the people of Barbados to reflect on the kind of Barbadians they wished to be. "Pause with me and reflect on the words of the gentleman who we just paid tribute, to our national anthem as to what kind of Barbados do we want to live in in the future. Will we write our name on history's page with expectations great? What kind of fate will we be firm craftsmen of - and I ask you this because the choice is in our hands," she said. "And as we reflect today, I ask us to do so with purpose because each and everyone of us in this stadium, within this country has the capacity to alter the nation's course and destiny. And we ask you what kind of country do you want to live in; what do you want people to say about Barbados 20 years from now and read about Barbados when they Google it 10 years and 20 years from now?" "We have to ask ourselves these questions because where we want to be will not happen by accident or by serendipity, it happens because we have set to out to build a nation and mold a people and in so doing we remind you that as of the 1st of January 2020 we have invited all of our own to return home for We Gathering 2020." Mottley also extended congratulations to those 26 persons who were honoured during the Independence Day celebrations, adding that she was also especially proud of those persons who were the first to be recognised in the new category of National Honours, the Order of the Freedom of Barbados. (CLJB)