Author: Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin

Born Israel Isidore Baline, the composer and lyricist Irving Berlin (1888–1989) immigrated with his family to New York City in 1893 to escape the pogroms against the Jews in his native Russia. As a child, Berlin sold newspapers in the city and would hear the day’s popular music emanating from the saloons and restaurants. He was taken by the music, and as a teenager he survived by singing popular songs to customers in bars. He started playing the piano and writing songs, and in 1911 his song “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” made him an instant celebrity. Over the course of his lifetime, Berlin wrote hundreds of songs, scored nineteen Broadway shows, and provided the music for eighteen Hollywood films. Among his most famous songs include “Easter Parade,” “White Christmas,” “This is the Army, Mr. Jones,” There’s No Business Like Show Business,” and, of course, “God Bless America,” which Kate Smith first performed in 1938. 

God Bless America

Irving Berlin

Does America need divine blessing, and for what? Consider Irving Berlin’s tribute to America, released prior to the outbreak of World War II, and its call for national allegiance, gratitude, and prayer.