Irving Burgie, Songwriter who helped bring Calypso to America has died. Burgie wrote the calypso song “Day-O” (“The Banana Boat Song”) which became a huge hit for singer/actor Harry Belafonte in 1956. Burgie, who went by the name Lord Burgess, co-wrote the song with William Attaway, based on a traditional Jamaican folk song. “Day-O” spent 31 weeks at number one on the Billboard chart and later was featured in a popular scene in the movie “Beetlejuice.” He wrote many more calypso songs for Belafonte including “Island in the Sun.” Burgie was a member of an all-black unit in the Army during World War II. After the war, he worked the folk music circuit in Greenwich Village and then began writing for Belafonte. His mother was a native of Barbados and Burgie wrote the country’s national anthem. He was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2007. Burgie was 95.
Check out a feature on Burgie by Jon Kalish for NPR News.