‘Day-O’ songwriter Irving Burgie lifting students through annual scholarships at his alma maters


A report by Jared McCallister for the New York Daily News.

It has been many decades since 93-year-old, award-winning songwriter Irving Burgie honed his skills at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and the University of Southern California.

But he’s never forgotten their value to his historic and lengthy career, so he gives back through the Irving Burgie Scholarship.

The ASCAP Foundation established the scholarship, which is presented annually to an African-American songwriter from New York City and alternates between the Berklee and USC.

The most recent recipient is Shania Wilcox — a double major in songwriting and music business management at Berklee College of Music.

Funded by a gift from Burgie, a longtime ASCAP member, the scholarship was started in 2006, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of his song “Day-O.”

Burgie wrote the world-famous tunes “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song),” “Jamaica Farewell” the bulk of songs on Harry Belafonte’s “Calypso,” the first million-selling album by a single artist in music history.

He was born in Brooklyn and his mother was an immigrant from Barbados. After a stint in the U.S. Army, he used his G.I. Bill to attend the colleges before his music career.

Burgie gave back to the University of Southern California recently by performing and interacting with students at the university’s Thorton School of Music in September.

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