Grammy-award-winning dancehall legend, Shaggy, is set to receive an honorary doctorate in recognition of his immeasurable contribution to dancehall so far. The accolade will be bestowed by the well-distinguished Ivy League research institution Brown University.
The “It Wasn’t Me” singer will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the university at their Providence, Rhode Island location later this month, May 27. He will join nine other illustrious candidates to receive the special honor and recognition.
It is a major achievement for the veteran who got his start in music over four decades ago. It also shows how his tenacity and endurance have paid off, considering that he got his start on the streets of Jamaica in 1987 while singing in the streets with friends.
Shaggy, whose real name is Orville Richard Burrell, has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and has won twice for Best Reggae Album with Boombastic in 1996 and 44/876 with Sting in 2019. He also won the Brit Award for International Male Solo Artist in 2002.
The “Mad Mad World” singer eventually took his talents to New York City, where he gained recognition as a lyrical deejay. His journey is unique in that he diverted from his career path and joined the US Marines, where he served for four years. In those four years, he served two tours of duty in the Middle East as part of Operation Desert Storm. Following that, he was able to secure his first record deal, where he cemented his place in the dancehall game when “Oh Carolina” dominated the airwaves.
Shaggy is the only diamond-selling dancehall artist in music history. For some perspective on his phenomenal ability to sell records, the international dancehall star has sold more than 40 million album units to date. He also has eight singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and seven albums on the Billboard 200, which include four in the top 40.
His appeal continues to grow even with the younger generation of dancehall lovers, which is reflected by his position as one of the top three streamed reggae artistes on Spotify.
Shaggy is also well known for sticking to his Jamaican roots and often dishes out advice for younger artists who are trying to penetrate the global market as well as various philanthropic efforts.
The Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation was launched in 2009 and has become famous for the many Shaggy and Friends benefit concerts, which usually donate millions in profits to the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston.
The “Church Heathen” deejay will join some esteemed company when he collects his honorary degree, as according to a Brown University release, a Commencement oration is expected to be delivered by Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi as well as a Baccalaureate address by public health leader Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
The university also stated that the degree was a Brown tradition since 1769 and that 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.”
The Brown President, Christina H. Paxson, also said that the honor is given to those who have made tremendous impacts in government, public health, the arts, global affairs, science, and technology. She also said that his year’s distinguished recipients offer a superb example to our newest graduates.
Congrats to the “Boombastic” deejay.