Sun | May 29, 2022

It’s Dr Shaggy! Dancehall artiste to receive honorary degree from Brown University

Published:Thursday | May 12, 2022 | 12:08 AM
Shaggy addresses the audience at the 61st annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in February 2019.
Shaggy addresses the audience at the 61st annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in February 2019.
Shaggy at the Shaggy and Friends concert held at Lawns of Jamaica House in St. Andrew in January 2018.
Shaggy at the Shaggy and Friends concert held at Lawns of Jamaica House in St. Andrew in January 2018.
Shaggy creating waves on stage at Jamfest 2019.
Shaggy creating waves on stage at Jamfest 2019.
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He’s boombastic and he’s fantastic, and Brown University, a private Ivy League research institution located in Providence, Rhode Island, recognises that fact and is honouring Shaggy in a huge way at the end of the month. The Grammy award winning reggae and dancehall artiste has been selected to receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the university.

Shaggy, whose real name is Orville Burrell, is among nine candidates who will be bestowed with honorary degrees during the university’s Commencement and Reunion Weekend from May 27 to 29.

According to a Brown University release, honorary degree highlights will include a Commencement oration delivered by Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi; a Baccalaureate address by public health leader Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and an honorary degree oration for the Class of 2020 by Shaggy, a former US Marine.

“A Brown tradition since 1769, the annual presentation of honorary degrees offers our community the chance to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds,” Brown President Christina H. Paxson is quoted as saying. “Having made tremendous impacts in government, public health, the arts, global affairs, science and technology, and more, this year’s distinguished recipients offer a superb example to our newest graduates.”

The complete list of candidates reads: Dr Nicole Alexander-Scott – Physician and public health leader; Dr Seth Berkley – Physician and public health leader; Guido Imbens – Nobel Laureate and economist; Stanley Nelson – Oscar-nominated filmmaker; Nancy Pelosi – Speaker of the US House of Representatives; Shaggy – Reggae icon and US Marine; Alice and Thomas Tisch – Brown leaders and benefactors; Zeynep Tüfekçi – Technology scholar and educator.

Shaggy – Doctor of Fine Arts

Reggae icon and US Marine

Born Orville Richard Burrell and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, two-time Grammy Award winner Shaggy got his start as an emcee in New York City’s dancehall scene after moving to Brooklyn in his teens. Not long after serving four years in the US Marines, including two tours of duty in the Middle East as part of Operation Desert Storm, he earned his first record deal and scored a global crossover hit with Oh Carolina.

As the only diamond-selling dancehall artiste in music history, Shaggy has sold more than 40 million album units to date in addition to landing eight singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and seven albums on the Billboard 200, including four in the top 40. He is among the top three streamed reggae artistes of all time on Spotify.

Not only a pioneering songwriter, Shaggy has used his platform to strengthen his community and homeland. In 2009, he established the Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation and organised the first of many Shaggy & Friends benefit concerts, which to date have raised millions for the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston.