Jamaican gospel reggae artist Lieutenant Stitchie, who was born Cleveland Laing in 1965 in Spanish Town, Jamaica, was awarded a second honorary Ph.D. in International Humanitarian Law by the Association for Biblical Accountability in Education and Friends for Life Outreach Department of Training and Education at Dayspring Christian University in Ontario, Canada.
Given the title of “Dancehall Governor,” Lieutenant Stitchie is one of dancehall’s most popular performers. He is known for the energy and mesmerizing quality of his live performances and for his messages of love, peace, and righteousness.
The deejay and singer graduated from G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport and went to work as a biology teacher at Spanish Town School prior to starting a career in dancehall music. His singing career began in the late 1970s, and in the mid-1980s he started working on sound systems and released his first single under the professional name of Ranking Citrus, or Citchie, which derived from his love of citrus fruit. Once he went to work with the Stereo One sound system, he changed his stage name to Stitchie, a reference to a typo on a record label. His debut album “Great Ambition” was released in 1987. “Natty Dread” was at the top of the Jamaican charts for 14 weeks, and its commercial success resulted in a record contract with Atlantic Records in 1988, making him one of the first dancehall artists to make a deal with a major record label. He was released from the Atlantic contract in 1994 and had success with single recordings in Jamaica and the album “Gangsta” in 1995 under the VP Records label and “Bangarang” also in 1995 on the Shanachie Records label.
In 1997, Lieutenant Stitchie was injured in an automobile accident on his way to Montego Bay to perform at Reggae Sumfest. He went on to perform against medical advice and was given a Gideon Bible by a Canadian boy after his appearance. He read the Bible in his hotel room and became a Christian, which prompted his move away from dancehall and toward his gospel reggae career. His first album in this style was “To God Be the Glory” in 1999. In 2002, he received the Outstanding Male Reggae Vocal Performance of the Year’ at the Caribbean Gospel Music Marlin Awards.
The honorary degree from the university in Ontario is Lieutenant Stitchie’s second. He also received an honorary doctorate in 2012. While he is no longer teaching in a formal setting, the artist continues to expand his student population throughout the world via his music and his autobiography, “The Power of Determination.” He has made personal appearances in North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. He is credited with being the first artist to bring dancehall to Germany, the Netherlands, and Europe and has received awards from the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JARIA) and the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) in 2015 and 2018, respectively, for his contributions to the development of reggae and dancehall music globally. He is the only dancehall artist to date to have 14 Number 1 songs in a single calendar year.
In 2021, he was recognized during the National Honors and Awards celebration on Jamaica’s 59th Anniversary of Independence.
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