Dancehall icon Lieutenant Stitchie was bestowed with a second Honorary Doctorate, on Saturday, November 20, this time courtesy of the Dayspring Christian University, in Ontario Canada.
The degree, an Honorary Doctorate in International Humanitarian Law, came by way of the university’s Association for Biblical Accountability in Education & Friends For Life Outreach Department of Training and Education. It was presented to Stitchie for his involvement in outreach in correctional facilities in Canada and other areas, as well as in education.
It comes almost 10 years after the Masterclass artist was conferred with his first honorary doctorate by the Cornerstone Christian University in Orlando, Florida, in recognition of his contribution to Gospel Reggae.
According to the Dayspring Christian University, its Honorary Doctorate (Doctor Honorius causa) is an honorary academic degree which “confers to those who have made a major contribution to the advancement of scholarship, science or culture or who have otherwise contribution to the benefit of mankind”.
Dayspring Christian University is a comprehensive Christ-Centered worldview Christian University, established with Mission to produce Biblical sound Leaders who would impact the Church and community globally. It offers Biblical and Theological degree programs from Undergraduate to Doctoral level, via online and on-campus modalities, which are aimed preparing students for a variety of occupations and voluntary roles within the Christian faith.
In an interview with the Gleaner newspaper, Stitchie, 56, a former Physical Education teacher, with an illustrious career in Dancehall music, said he was humbled to receive the academic recognition.
“It is a humbling feeling; I realise what it means to what and who I represent, also, of whom I belong. I am representing the Kingdom of God as I am a follower of Christ, I am representing my country and its rich culture for which the responsibility is on my shoulder to let people know that Jamaica is not synonymous with criminality as some may be made to think,” he said.
“Also, poverty is not synonymous with failure, but it can be used as a prerequisite for success if you apply yourself, stay focused and be determined in whatever it is you’re pursuing. I speak as a man who comes from the bowels of society… Anything you want, you can achieve it,” he added.
On the humanitarian front, since 2005, Stitchie has worked with the Friends for Life Outreach Department of Training and Education, performing at charity events as motivational speaker and participating in programmes to provide inmates with scholarships for education.
This, he said, was done in a bid to use music and ministry to reach out to persons who were “not necessarily lacking education but were in the situation because of miseducation”.
A graduate of the GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport, Stitchie, whose given name is Cleve Laing, is no stranger to awards, having been bestowed with a slews of much-coveted accolades over the years.
On National Heroes Day in October he received the Order of Distinction for his “contribution to Reggae and Dancehall Music, Locally and Internationally”. He was inducted into the Gospel Hall Of Fame in January 2016, in Kingston, and in 2002, was presented with the ‘Outstanding Male Reggae Vocal Performance of the Year’ award at Caribbean Gospel Music Marlin Awards, to name a few.
At Reggae Sumfest 1997 following a car crash which occurred en route to the festival, Stitchie still turned up at the venue in Montego Bay, with a bandage over one of his eyes, and put on an electrifying performance which earned him seven encores, and the distinction of being declared the best performer of the night and the best performer of the festival.
After the 1997 car crash, Stitchie became a Christian shortly afterward and moved away from secular dancehall, and started the gospel reggae movement.
He has worked with a wide range of Jamaica’s best producers including Bobby Digital, Danny Browne, Donovan Germaine, Sly and Robbie, and Steelie and Cleevie.
His first gospel reggae album was To God Be the Glory which was released in 1999. In 2002, he won the ‘Outstanding Male Reggae Vocal Performance of the Year’ award at Caribbean Gospel Music Marlin Awards.