×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Calypso Singer Irving Burgie, Writer of ‘Day-O’ and Other Harry Belafonte Hits, Dies at 95

Irving Burgie, a singer and songwriter who wrote many calypso hits for Harry Belafonte and others, including the 1956 hit “Day-O” (“The Banana Boat Song”), died on Friday, according to the New York Times and multiple news outlets. He was 95.

His death was announced on Saturday by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados. Although he was born in Brooklyn, Burgie’s mother was from Barbados and he wrote the island nation’s national anthem, “In Plenty and in Time of Need.”

It is hard to imagine the calypso music craze that helped power Belafonte to stardom without Burgie. He performed under the name Lord Burgess and wrote eight of the 11 songs on Belafonte’s blockbuster 1956 album “Calypso,” including “Day-O,” which was based on a Jamaican folk song. He and lyricist William Attaway rewrote the song, which went on to become a global hit — clocking 31 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart — that has been revived many times over the years, from a concert shout-out by the Kinks to a comic scene in the 1989 film “Beetlejuice.” Other hits over the years include “Island in the Sun,” “Jamaica Farewell” and the Christmas-themed song “Mary’s Boy Child.”

Irving Louis Burgie was born in Brooklyn in 1924; his father was American. He served in an all-black unit in the U.S. Army during World War II, which is where he began to focus on music, learning to play guitar and singing in the chapel choir. After leaving the Army he took classes at Brooklyn College and later was accepted into Juilliard School of music as a classical singer. Inspired by the 1950s folk-music revival, he began to write songs based on the Caribbean songs he’d heard growing up. He worked steadily as a performer over the years and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007.

 

More Music

  • Post Malone, Foo Fighters, More Join

    Post Malone, Foo Fighters, Many More Join Pharrell’s 2020 Something in the Water Festival

    Pharrell Williams today announced the music lineup for the second year of his acclaimed “Something in the Water,” a multi-day music festival and cultural experience taking place in his hometown of Virginia Beach over the weekend of April 24-26, 2020. A$AP Rocky, Baby Rose, Bae Worldwide, Banks, Beck, Brittany Howard, Buddy, Chad Hugo, Chance the Rapper, Clipse, EarthGang, [...]

  • Juice Wrld’s Mother Gives Statement: ‘Addiction

    Juice Wrld’s Mother Gives Statement: ‘Addiction Knows No Boundaries’

    In the first statement from Juice Wrld’s family after the rapper died on Sunday, his mother, Carmella Wallace, spoke of his struggles with addiction, which he addressed in many of his songs. “We loved Jarad with all of our hearts and cannot believe our time with him has been cut short,” she said to TMZ. [...]

  • Harry Styles Fine Line Album

    Harry Styles' 'Fine Line': Album Review

    Harry Styles has chosen to use his superpowers for good and not evil. These powers were vested in him by the superstar status of One Direction, which with each passing month sets new records for longest hiatus ever, even as its members meander in multiple directions. The most satisfying of these detours has been Styles’ [...]

  • K-pop singer Goo Ha-ra Suicide

    String of Suicides Highlights the Pressures on Young Entertainers in South Korea

    Less than two weeks after 28-year-old K-pop singer Goo Ha-ra — known professionally as Hara — was found dead in her home on Nov. 24 in a suspected suicide, South Korean pop star Kang Daniel posted a series of troubling messages on his fan portal. “Someone please save me,” he wrote on Dec. 3. “Everything [...]

  • Grammy Awards 60th Annual Grammy Awards,

    Recording Academy Reveals Its Diversity Task Force Report, With Strong Calls for Reform

    Anyone wondering what the Recording Academy’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion has been doing for the past 18 months got their answer this morning in the form of the organization’s strongly worded, 47-page-long Final Report, which is now available on the Academy’s website. As its name states, the Task Force, helmed by former first [...]

  • Jay-Z

    Tidal Gets Dolby Atmos Music, Jay-Z to Release Catalog in Immersive Audio Format

    Music streaming service Tidal has partnered with Dolby to bring Dolby Atmos Music tracks to its Tidal HiFi tier. This makes Tidal the second music service to support the high-end format. For now, support is limited to certain Android devices. Consumers may know Dolby Atmos as a surround-sound audio format for movies, which is being [...]

  • Hipgnosis Songs Acquires Catalog From Jack

    Hipgnosis Songs Acquires Catalog From Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey Cowriter Jack Antonoff

    Hipgnosis Songs has acquired its fourth music catalog of the month, this one from prolific songwriter, producer and artist Jack Antonoff. He is frontman of Bleachers, a founding member of Fun. and has collaborated extensively with Taylor Swift, Lana Del Ray, Lorde, Pink, St Vincent and many others. While terms of the deal were not [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content