(New York) — Songwriter Hall of Fame member Irving Burgie, the composer
of such standards as the Harry Belafonte smashes “Day-O,” “Jamaica
Farewell” and “Island In The Sun” recently signed a worldwide
co-publishing arrangement with BMG Rights Management, one of the worlds
leading music publishing companies. He received a signing bonus of five
hundred thousand dollars.
“Irving Burgie is truly a national treasure. His songs are as unmistakable
and engaging today as when they were written,” said Laurent Hubert, Chief
Operating Officer, BMG North America.
“I am many times blessed,” commented performer, folklorist and community
activist Burgie. “It is very gratifying to know that my work has spanned
generations and genres from Belafonte in the 1950’s to the Royal
Philharmonic Orchestra in 1983 and Lil’ Wayne in 2010. BMG has become one
of the premier global publishers, and I look forward to seeing my music
reach the audiences and artist of a new generation.
The album Calypso (1956), featuring eight songs written expressly for
Harry Belafonte by Burgie, was the first album to sell more than one
million copies in the U.S. and was #1 on the Billboard charts for 32
weeks. Burgie followed this success by penning material for two more
Belafonte albums that likewise became major pop hits: Belafonte Sings Of
The Carribbean (1958) and Jump-Up Calypso (1960). A few years later he had
the honor of being commissioned to craft the lyrics to Barbados National
Anthem (his mother’s homeland).
Irving’s artistry has gone on to inspire successive generations of
musicians who have recorded and performed his compositions, from Mantovani
and Mariam Makeba to Julio Iglesias, Jimmy Buffett and Carly Simon.
Burgie’s songs have sold over 100 million records. In addition his music
has appeared in films such as Daryl Zanuck’s Island In The Sun (1958) and
Tim Burton’s Beetle Juice (1988).
“Day-O”, written in 1955, has seen many reincarnations through various
samplings, including USA for Africas “We Are The World,” and most
recently, in Lil’ Wayne’s smash “Six Foot Seven Foot.” The song served as
the official wake-up call for NASA’s Atlantis space shuttle (1997). Half a
century after its debut, “Day-O” is still regularly heard in sport stadium
around the world. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of “Day-O,” the
ASCAP Foundation Irving Burgie Scholarship was established in 2006 to
support aspiring African-American songwriters.
Irving Burgie, a veteran of World War 2, studied music under the G. I Bill
at Juilliard in New York, the University Of Arizona, and the University of
Southern California. In the 1950’s, Mr Burgie performed as a folk singer
under the name “Lord Burgess,” making his New York nightclub debut as Max
Gordon’s Village Vanguard in 1954. Eventually he received honorary
doctorate degrees from the University of The West Indies, (1988), St
Johns University, NY (2009), and York College NY (2010).
Now eighty-six (86), he is working on a screen adaptation of his 1963 Off
B’ way musical, “Barbados”. He will be publishing a new song book, and a
double CD of his most famous songs, sung by Burgie and Friends.
Irving Burgie has served on the Board Of Directors of the Song Writers
Hall Of Fame for the past twelve years.