Songwriter Irving Burgie is dead

Irving Louis Burgie (July 28, 1924[1] – November 29, 2019), also known as Lord Burgess, was an American musician and songwriter, regarded as "one of the greatest composers of Caribbean music".[2] He composed 34 songs for Harry Belafonte, including eight of the 11 songs on the Belafonte album Calypso (1956), the first album of any kind to sell one million copies.[3] Burgie also wrote the lyrics of the National Anthem of Barbados.[4] To date, songs penned by Irving Burgie have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.[citation needed]

Songwriter Irving Burgie died in his native New York on November 29, at age 95. Though not an household name in the Caribbean, he wrote a number of standards that identified with the region, including Day-O, Jamaica Farewell and Island in The Sun.
Various news reports quoted his son, Andrew, giving the cause of death as heart failure.

Maxine Hamilton-Alexander, a Jamaican with strong ties in the New York/West Indian cultural circles, knew Burgie for 15 years. She described him as “an erudite man. His generosity of spirit exceeded most people I have met.”

Hamilton-Alexander was a board member of the Caribbean Cultural Theater in 2010 when that organisation presented Burgie with its Legacy Award in New York.

Born in Brooklyn, New York to an African-American father and Barbadian mother, Burgie told this writer in a 2011 interview that he learned about Caribbean culture from his mother who moved to the United States in the early 20th century.

After serving in the US Army in World War II, he attended and graduated from The Julliard School. In the early 1950s, while leading the Lord Burgess and the Serenaders band, he met Jamaican folklorist Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett and they became quick friends.

“I really got to know all the folk songs through her,” said Burgie in that 2011 interview.