Barbadians Going Global!
Many local Bajans have left this island paradise to go and live overseas, and Barbados is proud to have a number of internationally-renowned people who originate from its sun-kissed shores.
Whether for the pursuit of work or for pleasure, Barbadians have tended to move to countries like Canada, the United States, or the United Kingdom.
On this page, we’ve highlighted a few famous and notable Barbadians, from both past and present.
Robyn ‘Rihanna’ Fenty
Born in St. Michael, Rihanna topped the international music charts with her debut song ‘Pon De Replay’, which generated much commercial success for this young island girl.
The R&B sensation also took the world by storm with both her debut album ‘Music of the Sun’ (2005) and follow up album ‘A Girl Like Me’ (2006).
She went on to become a household name with her third studio album ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ (2007) and has gone on to win Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and BRIT Awards to become one of the best-selling artists of all time, worth an estimated US $90 million (estimated at 2013).
Rupert Clarke aka ‘Rupee’ was born to a Barbadian father and German mother and is one the best known artists in the musical movement known as soca.
He got his first major break after winning the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition in 1993, while he was still attending Harrison College in Barbados.
His first hit single ‘Ice Cream’ was followed by a string of hit songs from three self-released solo albums. Over the years, Rupee also went on to win repeated Road March titles at carnivals in Barbados, New York, Miami, Boston, and Toronto with his song ‘Jump’.
During the 2011 Crop Over festival season, Rupee again won the Starcom Network title of ‘People’s Monarch’ with his song ‘I am a Bajan’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_BndvlHqPU).
Sir Garfield (Garry) Sobers
Arguably the world’s greatest cricket all-rounder, Garfield St. Auburn Sobers began his life in the parish of St. Michael in Barbados and played cricket for the West Indies between 1954 and 1974.
Richie Benaud has described Sobers as “the greatest all-round cricketer the world has seen … a brilliant batsman, splendid fielder, particularly close to the wicket, and a bowler of extraordinary skill, whether bowling with the new ball, providing orthodox left-arm spin or over-the-wrist spin“.
Sobers began his first-class cricket career at the age of 16, and his Test Crick debut for the West Indies a year later.
He was made captain of the West Indies in 1965, a role which he held until 1972.
Sir Garfield Sobers was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975 for his services to cricket.
By an act of Parliament in 1998 and another outstanding achievement for this local Bajan, Sobers was also named as one of the ten National Heroes of Barbados.
Irving Louis Burgie, otherwise known as ‘Lord Burgess’, is a pride to the island of Barbados.
Known as one of the greatest composers of Caribbean music, Burgie’s songs have sold over 100 million records throughout the world.
He is is the creator of the lyrics for the Barbados national anthem ‘In Plenty and In Time of Need and is internationally recognized worldwide for his music and lyrics of to the ‘Day-O’ the song, the most commonly associated song with the Caribbean to this very day.
‘Day, me say, saaaaay day-o. Daylight come and me wan’ go home.’
Irving Burgie is also the composer of 34 songs for Harry Belafonte, including eight of the eleven songs on the album ‘Calypso’, which reached number one on the Billboard charts.
In 2007, he was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame for his outstanding musical talents and achievements.
For more information, see his official website (www.irvingburgie.com).
Mr. Burgie is just one of the many Barbadians who have ‘done the island proud’. It is locally said that ‘Bajans are everywhere’ – travel to any part of the globe and if you are lucky, the friendliest person you will meet will have his roots buried in our little dot of sand.
The Bajan Invasion …
Our list of famous Barbadians is just some of the many Bajans who have done the island proud.
In fact, it is said locally that ‘Bajans are everywhere’ – travel to any part of the globe and if you’re lucky, the friendliest person you will meet will have his roots buried in our little dot of sand. They say the people of Barbados are this island’s greatest asset!
Did You Know?
Famous rapper LL Cool J also has ties to Barbados – his mother is a first-generation Bajan-American.
Author: Brett Callaghan