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Shaggy’s loyalty to Jamaica on show with Ready TV

Published:Sunday | May 1, 2016 | 5:00 AMLeighton Levy
Orville 'Shaggy' Burrell (left) chats with Chris Dehring, Head of Ready TV. Shaggy is also a director.
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For A long time now, the world has known that there is more to Orville ‘Shaggy’ Burrell than meets the eye. Shaggy, a Grammy Award-winning recording artiste, is known globally for hits like Oh Carolina, Boombastic, and It Wasn’t Me. The latter is perhaps his most successful single from his multi-platinum album, Hot Shot, which made him a truly global superstar back in 2000.

Having migrated to the USA, almost 30 years ago, he enlisted in that country’s military and fought in the first Gulf War in 1991 as a member of a firing battery from the 10th Regiment. Through it all, he has always remained true to the country of his birth.

Almost a decade ago, he started the Shaggy and Friends Concert, which so far, as raised more than $250 million for the Bustamante Hospital for Children, and just a few years ago, he was instrumental for getting Jamaica’s songbird Tessanne Chin to enter and win the popular US talent show The Voice.

LOYALTY TO JAMAICA

His latest venture further solidifies his loyalty to Jamaica. Shaggy is a partner in Digital Interactive Services Limited (DISL), a privately owned Jamaican company that is in possession of an islandwide Special Subscriber Television Licence issued by the Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica.

The company will launch its islandwide service – ReadyTV – in December of this year. Burrell is a director along with fellow Jamaicans Peter Reid, David Cassanova, and Chris Dehring, who will serve as its president and CEO. Swedish national Magnus Johansson and Trinidardian Gerard Borely are also directors.

DISL’s special licence allows it to use both wired and wireless technology to deliver multiple television channels to its customers across Jamaica. ReadyTV, as it is being called, will employ the very latest in digital technology to deliver over 200 entertainment, informational, and educational channels for all Jamaicans to enjoy.

“It is ‘cable’ television when and how customers want it, not the other way around,” the company boasts. “It is a great concept. Think about how many boxes you have in your house and all of these boxes have packages on them. And think about the number of channels you use from each package; most of them you don’t use. This concept is a better concept to me. With this you can top up when you are ready,” Shaggy told The Sunday Gleaner.

“It’s the concept that really grabbed me. Look at how many people have top-up phones, pay as you go. The majority of Jamaican people cannot afford (cable television). With this programme, it is going to be affordable to people. When it was explained to me, I just thought it made great sense,” said Shaggy.

Being part of a Jamaican-owned company was also very appealing to the man who has black, green, and gold coursing through his veins.

“You know say me is a patriot from morning. So the fact that this is a fully owned Jamaican owned thing, that was another thing that sparked me. Me a say, ‘Yeah! It’s about time’” he said.

Shaggy’s loyalty to Jamaica runs deep. As a global superstar, few could blame him for choosing elsewhere to invest his money, but even though he has put his life on the line for the USA, Jamaica is where his heart truly is.

“I have a US passport and I have a Jamaican passport. I served in the US military. I have every benefit on the planet where the US is concerned, but I want to stay in Jamaica because there is nothing like the vibe,” he explained. “No matter where you go in the country, there is culture. So it’s either I do like everybody else and pack up my things and run from our problems, or we are going to face our problems head-on.”

GLOBAL FAME

It is this loyalty that made him decide to put his money behind it and use his global fame to help drag Jamaica from the economic quagmire it has found itself in for decades now.

“I have found myself in a unique position, where I am in a position of influence with my brand; where I can use that brand and enhance Jamaica and enhance a better way of living here. My children are born here. They go to school here. I live here, so why not use that to do that,” he said with pride.

“The fame is there already, but you can’t do anything with the fame. The days where me just a walk ‘roun and use fame fi get gyal and dem ting dey are behind me. I am 47 years old and I am married, so my mind nuh dey dey suh. So there are other things we are looking for. What we can do with the power of brand Shaggy.”

His vision for ReadyTV is that it will become a major player in the country and perhaps on an even wider scale globally.

“We want to be a force to be reckoned with. We want to employ as many people as possible and provide great service to the Jamaican public,” he said, while explaining that he also has hopes that ReadyTV will be a tool of empowerment for the people of his homeland.

“The growth of Jamaica comes down to education, and the more educated the people are, the more empowered they are. With something like ReadyTV, we can get into every community, every corner. We are the vessel that knowledge can come through and that provides different dreams and aspirations. Aman can only dream what he knows about. When you are enlightened, there are so many things you can dream of becoming and work towards.”

entertainment@gleanerjm.com