Jamaican American international artiste Shaggy will soon have the title of “Dr.” added to his name when he receives an honorary doctorate from Brown University later this month.
He is one of nine people who will be conferred with honorary doctorates by the prestigious Ivy League university on May 28. Shaggy, whose given name is Orville Burrell, will receive a Doctor of Fine Arts during the undergraduate class of 2020 commencement ceremony.
According to a release from Brown University, honorary doctorates are conferred on people “who have achieved great distinction in a variety of fields.”
The other recipients of honorary doctorates this year include 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 U.S. House of Representatives; Alice and Thomas Tisch, Brown leaders and benefactors and Zeynep Tüfekçi, technology scholar and educator.
“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,” said Brown President Christina H. Paxson.
“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.”
This year’s honorary degree highlights will include a commencement oration delivered by Speaker of the U.S. 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 delivered by Shaggy.
Brown University noted Shaggy’s stint as a U.S. marine, followed by his legendary career as a dancehall artiste, coupled with his philanthropist efforts as reasons for his inclusion on the list of honorees.
“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 U.S. 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,” the University stated.
They also lauded Shaggy as not only a pioneering songwriter, but an artiste who used “his platform to strengthen his community and homeland.”
In 2009, he established the Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation and organized the first of many Shaggy & Friends benefit concerts, which to date have raised millions for the Bustamante Children’s Hospital in Kingston.