As a child, Charlie Burg started singing in synagogue and taking piano lessons. Now the Seaholm High School graduate, who grew up in Birmingham, is a singer-songwriter and producer based in Brooklyn who recently signed a deal with Sony Music Publishing.
His road to success would have twists and turns, but no regrets. In 2014, Burg, now 24, went to Denison University in Ohio for his freshman year of college, where he began honing his writing and production skills and played in his first band. The following year, he transferred to the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH) program at Michigan State University to study English and Humanities, before finally deciding he wanted to be in music school.
So, he transferred to Syracuse University, where he earned a Bachelor of Music in music industry. “This three-year period was when I really put my head down and saw my music career taking shape alongside my schooling,” Burg said. “I met my two managers, Andrew Idarraga and Benji Sheinman, released music consistently and played shows around the world.”
After graduating alongside his managers in 2019, and after months of negotiating, Burg signed his publishing deal with Sony and a record deal with FADER, shortly after they all moved to Brooklyn.
“Also that spring, I began putting together my debut album, which two years later I am closing in on finishing, and will release next spring with an accompanying world tour,” he said.
His managers have been instrumental in his career. A couple of years after meeting them, he was playing in Los Angeles, Chicago, London and Jakarta, Indonesia, with Charlie Burg and the Blue Wave Band (his band for concerts), all while juggling school.
His organic sound is influenced by R&B, soul and indie rock. “It’s soulful, indie, rock and roll with a singer-songwriter skew,” said Burg, whose favorite artist of all time is Prince, who he discovered later in life after growing up listening to Motown.
He hasn’t forgotten his hometown roots. “I developed my chops being in front of an audience in downtown Birmingham and Royal Oak busking and performing at open mics,” Burg said.
The musicals at Seaholm with band director Tim Cibor helped him develop a strong stage presence.
Burg wouldn’t change his college path if he had it to do over again. “I am really grateful,” he said about his well-rounded education and degree. “Many artists just write songs and don’t learn the legal language of the business. I wanted to really go full force and I took into account advice from trusted people in my life, like my old teachers and my mother.”
He consistently releases and writes and advises others pursuing the industry to do the same. “My favorite part is starting ideas from scratch with the inception of a musical idea, when I get to just follow my heart,” he said. The most difficult part is to finish a song, added Burg who writes music and lyrics.
Burg also believes in the benefits of uprooting yourself physically.
“If I didn’t transfer to different cities and schools, I wouldn’t have ended up meeting my managers,” he said. “At times it was scary, but I had a feeling in my gut that I had to finish and I landed in the right place.”
Story: Jeanine Matlow