Burgie’s new Ballad for Bimshire

He wrote the lyrics to Barbados’ national anthem. Now American composer Irving Burgie is looking to do a movie about the island.

During the press launch of the #246Anthem initiative at the Hilton Barbados Resort on Monday, Burgie revealed his latest plans for his off-Broadway production Ballad for Bimshire, which was first released in New York City in 1963.

Songwriter Irving Burgie
Songwriter Irving Burgie

“I’ve since done some revisions of the show and I’m making a movie of it, which I hope to get it done in the next year so.

“It’s a movie that talks about Barbados coming of age. It takes place around the 1930s in Barbados just before the second World War,” said Burgie, who is on island this week as part of activities marking the country’s Golden Jubilee.

The visit has been a very nostalgic one for the famous American composer, who is best known for the song Jamaica Farewell, for which he wrote the lyrics. It was recorded by well-known singer Harry Belafonte, for whom Burgie wrote a total of 34 songs, including eight of the 11 songs on the Belafonte album Calypso, which reached number one on the Billboard charts. It was the first album of any kind to sell a million copies.

In 1955, Burgie co-wrote a version of the lyrics for Banana Boat Song, which reached number five on the Billboard charts in 1957 and later became a signature song.

To date songs penned by Burgie have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.

However, Barbados continues to occupy a special place in Burgie’s heart.

All week long, Burgie, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, of a Barbadian mother and American father, has been filled with a special feeling, as his visit has brought back many memories of his close connection to the island.

The acclaimed musical composer told reporters he was glad to be a part of the initiative to get persons to sing the words to the national anthem.

“A lot of people are talking about the fact that the anthem is only played by a band in Barbados. I’m all for getting this project going and fulfilled. The main force that a nation has is its anthem and its flag, those are the unifying features in every country and Barbados is no different. Barbados is a very young nation. You have to start to push to make things happen and I believe you are on the verge of doing that,” Burgie said.

James Wilson, spokesman the #246Anthem initiative, said it was an honour to have Burgie here at this time.

“Part of our promotion for the 50th anniversary is to encourage Barbadians in Barbados and all over the world to sing the anthem. We are fortunate that Mr Burgie came to Barbados at this time. We have asked him to help us promote the national anthem that he wrote.” Wilson said.

James Wilson (left), organizer of the project #246Anthem, with Irving Burgie during the launch.
James Wilson (left), organizer of the project #246Anthem, with Irving Burgie during the launch.

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