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Stitchie does it again

Published:Sunday | June 3, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Gospel artiste becomes the first from dancehall to receive honorary doctorate

Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter

Gospel artiste Lieutenant Stitchie has made history after being conferred with an honorary doctorate from the Cornerstone Christian University in Orlando, Florida.

The artiste, whose real name is Cleve Laing, is set to receive the award for his contribution to gospel reggae music at a ceremony today. The event is slated to take place at The Word Church of God, which is located at 1733 Mercy Drive, Orlando, Florida.

Stitchie, who became a Christian in 1997, says he is extremely grateful.

"I must first give honour to my Lord and King, Jesus The Christ, because without Him, I would not even exist, let alone to be given such an honour. Psalms 75:6-7 is made manifest in my life once again as the Lord continues to show me His favour and fulfil His purpose in my life. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and humility, simultaneously recognising that I have been given a greater responsibility and a new assignment in enhancing the Kingdom of God, as this continues to be my sole mandate, since I was called from the secular dancehall music on August 7, 1997 to the Kingdom of God," he said.

"I am honoured that Cornerstone Christian University chose to afford me the commendation of being the first gospel reggae minister and dancehall artiste to have ever been given such an honour and I will continue to "wear my size" in this walk of humility, as a citizen of the Kingdom of God and with integrity as a son of the soil of Jamaica, and the Caribbean as a whole."

former manager proud

Stitchie is not the only person who is pleased to hear the news. His former manager, Dave Rodney, is also quite happy.

"I am proud of this accomplishment. He is an extraordinarily talented artiste and he is easily one of the most driven artistes I have ever come across," he told The Sunday Gleaner.

"He broke records by being the first dancehall artiste to be signed to Atlantic Records and he is making records again by being conferred with this honorary doctorate."

Rodney added that he was Stitchie's manager for several years in the 1980s and '90s and worked with him for at least five albums.

Joining in this honour will be eight local and international bishops; local pastors; businessman Peter Daley of Caribbean Sunshine Bakery; Pastor Paul Black, who will be ordained bishop; Claudette Bailey, president of Jamaica Cultural Connection; Minister Bridget Norvel and others.

Prior to becoming a Christian, Stitchie was a famed dancehall artiste and was rated among the top artistes in Jamaica. Since his conversion in 1997, he has made a name for himself as a gospel artiste.

He got Most Outstanding Reggae Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year at the Caribbean Gospel Music Awards (Marlin) for Solid Rock. In 2002, he got the top gospel album at the Canadian Caribbean Gospel Award and was named the Top Gospel Artiste for 2003 at The French International Caribbean Awards.

Numerous awards later, he released Real Life Story in 2007, which earned two Marlin Awards in 2008; Best Gospel Solo Performer of the Year and Most Outstanding Packaging. In 2010, he released another album, Serious Message.