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EDITORIAL - Thank you, Shaggy

Published:Sunday | January 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Orville Burrell, or Shaggy, as he is better known, has been able to maintain a universal fan base without sacrificing the iconoclasm and irreverence of the Jamaican dancehall.

Indeed, Shaggy understands that it is too easy to attempt to pass crudity off as art. And he sees no reason to trade over-the-top vulgarity for popularity. That would be too cheap and not, in the end, sustainable. At least, not if you intend to make a difference.

Shaggy has been making a difference.

A week ago, he hosted his second annual Shaggy and Friends concert on the grounds of King's House, aimed at raising the equivalent of US$2 million for the Bustamante Hospital for Children. How successful he was in meeting that target is not yet known. But whatever was raised, it will be welcomed by the institution which, like all government entities, is feeling the stress of the economic crisis.

Shaggy's efforts will make a difference to the well-being of thousands of Jamaican children who require health care. For that we celebrate Shaggy and his Make a Difference Foundation, as we do all the individuals and organisations who daily contribute to the enhancement of the welfare of those Jamaicans whose lives are better because they care.

There are a few other things from Shaggy's concert that are worth commenting on, which we commend to Jamaica in general, and in one case, the Government and the finance ministry in particular. The first is management.

It cannot be easy, as Shaggy and his team have done these past two years, to bring together a range of artistes, from Jamaica and overseas, to perform, at the start of the year, for a charity event. So, too, it would have been difficult, we believe, to win the commitment of sponsors in these hard times. If it was easy, it speaks to Shaggy's persuasive charisma and the negotiating skills of his support team.


Very important, too, would have been the logistical planning that allowed a concert of this magnitude to run with relative smoothness.

This is what I would like to draw to the attention of Finance Minister Audley Shaw and his technical team at National Heroes Circle. Shaggy's management stood in sharp contrast to the bungling displayed last April when the finance ministry couldn't decide which products were, or were not, subject to the general consumption tax as Mr Shaw attempted to cast a wider net. The same shambolic performance was evident with Mr Shaw's pre-Christmas tax package.

Commitment to decency

Our second observation relates to our initial call to Shaggy's ethics and those other elements which help to make him a success as an artiste/entertainer: his sense of timing, and his commitment to decency. Shaggy was obviously hurt and shamed by Rodney Pryce's (Bounty Killer) ill-timed and crude performance when he was invited to share the stage briefly.

Bounty Killer's pledge of $250,000 on behalf of his 'crew' will help the Bustamante Hospital, but it didn't buy his redemption. His subsequent public apology, though, assuming it was genuine, comes closer to what is deserved by Shaggy and the values of the event that Bounty so slightly smeared.

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