Irving Berlin and the American Songbook

- *Simpkins, Daphne
From the time he was about 10 years old, Izzy Baline tried to earn money for his family and himself. He sold newspapers on the streets of New York. One day, with his day’s earnings in his hand, a street crane knocked little Izzy into the nearby river.

A stranger dove in and rescued the drowning boy. When they opened Izzy’s tightly clutched hand, the boy was still holding the few pennies he had earned that morning. Those pennies were what stood between him and starvation.

When you have known deep hunger, you learn how to work, and like other immigrants who came to America to build a better life, Izzy did that by learning life on the street.

From selling newspapers he became a singing waiter and a song plugger. He taught himself to play the piano and surprised everyone with the compositions of Alexander and His Clarinet and Alexander’s Ragtime Band. The songs were financially profitable, and the royalties launched Izzy Baline as a composer and a lyric writer. He became known as Irving Berlin.

From New York’s Tin Pan Alley, Berlin went to Broadway where he owned his own theater, The Music Box, and later he traveled to Hollywood where he wrote music for movies. He is best known for two Christmas classics, Holiday Inn and White Christmas, and for Easter Parade.

This presentation will follow the story of Berlin’s life and offer backstories on some of his most famous songs, including White Christmas, What’ll I Do, Be Careful, It’s My Heart, and of course, God Bless America.

To book this talk, contact Daphne Simpkins:
Phone: 334.396.8618
Email: [email protected]

*Daphne is a dementia-friendly presenter and welcomes the opportunity to serve all age groups, including those with memory or dementia issues.