Irving Burgie from Barbados is still humming at age 93

Burgie’s head of hair may be as white as snow and he may walk more slowly than a quarter of a century ago, but he is in full control of his mental faculties, enjoys a good joke and a delicious meal, readily recalls chapters in his illustrious career and perks up whenever Barbados is mentioned.

There are some excellent reasons why nostalgia becomes the dominating emotion when the island is cited.

One can be traced to his late mother, Viola Calendar, whose last name was changed to Burgie when she married her husband Louis Burgie, an African-American with family roots in Virginia, and started to raise a family in Brooklyn. They had two sons and a daughter and worked hard to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table and clothes on their backs.

Secondly, there is the memorable link between Burgie and Barbados’ Independence: the National Anthem.

“It’s a source of great pride and satisfaction to know you have contributed something, a major symbol, the National Anthem, that has helped to make Barbadians so proud of their country,” he said the other day.

Thirdly, Burgie donates the monetary prizes to the winners of an annual competition that encourages Bajan youth to express themselves in essays, poetry and other literary works.

“The purpose is to get them to write,” he said.

“I’ve had a good life, an exciting one and I have travelled the world. My music, composing skill and artistic ability have enabled me to do all of those things.

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