Irving Berlin

Widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history, Irving Berlin published his first song, "Marie from Sunny Italy", in 1907 and had his first major international hit, "Alexander's Ragtime Band" in 1911. He also was an owner of the Music Box Theatre on Broadway.

Irving Berlin's music forms a great part of the Great American Songbook. He wrote hundreds of songs, many becoming major hits, which made him a legend before he turned thirty. During his 60-year career he wrote an estimated 1,500 songs, including the scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood films, with his songs nominated eight times for Academy Awards. Many songs became popular themes and anthems, including "Easter Parade", "White Christmas", "Happy Holiday", "This Is the Army, Mr. Jones", and "There's No Business Like Show Business". His Broadway musical and 1942 film, This is the Army, with Ronald Reagan, had Kate Smith singing Berlin's "God Bless America" which was first performed in 1938. Smith still performed the song on her 1960 CBS television series, The Kate Smith Show. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Celine Dion recorded it as a tribute, making it no. 1 on the charts.

Berlin's songs have reached the top of the charts 25 times and have been extensively re-recorded by numerous singers including Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Deana Martin, Ethel Waters, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, Rosemary Clooney, Cher, Diana Ross, Bing Crosby, Rita Reys, Frankie Laine, Johnnie Ray, Al Jolson, Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughan, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Doris Day, Jerry Garcia, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and Ella Fitzgerald. Composer Douglas Moore sets Berlin apart from all other contemporary songwriters, and includes him instead with Stephen Foster, Walt Whitman, and Carl Sandburg, as a "great American minstrel"鈥搒omeone who has "caught and immortalized in his songs what we say, what we think about, and what we believe." Composer George Gershwin called him "the greatest songwriter that has ever lived", and composer Jerome Kern concluded that "Irving Berlin has no place in American music鈥揾e is American music."