Irving Burgie, the songwriter of calypso hit ‘Day-O,’ dies at 95

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A candlelight vigil is held for Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney in Linn Park in front of Birmingham City Hall, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Birmingham, Ala. Police say they will charge two people with kidnapping and capital murder in the death of the 3-year-old Alabama girl whose body was found amid trash 10 days after being kidnapped outside a birthday party. (Joe Songer/The Birmingham News via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — 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.

His death Friday was announced Saturday by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley during the Caribbean country’s Independence Day parade. Burgie wrote the lyrics to Barbados’ national anthem.

According to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Burgie’s songs have sold over 100 million records worldwide. Many were recorded by Belafonte, including eight songs on Belafonte’s 1956 album, “Calypso,” the first album to sell over 1 million copies in the U.S.

The Brooklyn-born Burgie studied at the Juilliard School of Music. He became a folk singer using the stage name “Lord Burgess” and performed the circuit between New York and Chicago.

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