Israel Baline was born in a small village in Siberia. When he was four years old his family fled Russia because of a pogrom and immigrated to New York. He went to work at age eight selling newspapers, and by his teens was employed as a singing waiter at various taverns and restaurants. Eventually he worked himself up to song plugger at Tony Pastor's Music Hall in Union Square. While working as a singing waiter at Pelham's Cafe in Chinatown, he and the pianist were asked by the proprietor to write an original song for the cafe. That's how Israel became a lyricist. Unhappy with the composers who musicalized his words, he became his own composer, and despite he never learned to read and write music, almost single-handedly invented American popular music. Until today people all over the world hum the tunes of - Irving Berlin.