Shaggy & Friends for Jan 2

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter

Monday, November 09, 2015

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DESPITE the controversies swirling in the health sector, reggae superstar Shaggy is going ahead with plans for the 2016 staging of his Shaggy & Friends fund-raising concert series scheduled for the lawns of Jamaica House, on Saturday, January 2.

The announcement was made at a press conference held at the Bustamante Hospital for Children in St Andrew, yesterday.

The Boombastic singer said he cannot afford to be derailed by what is happening around him as he continues to raise funds for his pet project, The Bustamante Hospital for Children. Proceeds from Shaggy's 2014 concert was earmarked to furnish a cardiac unit at the hospital -- the only facility of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. However, the building is yet to be completed.

"It is an unfortunate situation. Our job at Shaggy & Friends was really just to furnish it, let me make that very clear. We nuh have anything to do with building it. We have already placed our orders for the equipment. We just a wait till the building done so we can install... there are so many conflicting stories here and there. My argument is, I hope them can get it together cause I a wait. But I can't make that stop me. Like I said, we have that money earmarked already. We're moving now with this concert that is going to the general needs of the hospital. We're not even gonna focus on the cardiac unit with this concert. We can't derail... as I say, it don't matter where the controversy is, it's not stopping the pickney dem from come here sick," he told the Jamaica Observer.

On Friday, Minister of Health, Dr Fenton Ferguson, was reassigned to the Ministry of Labour. He was replaced by Horace Dalley.

At the press conference, it was also announced that American media giant iHeartMedia and Italian automotive dealer Fiat will be coming on board to sponsor the event.

Owen Grover of iHeartMedia said his company was "extraordinarily touched" by Shaggy's work at the hospital and felt compelled to come on board.

"We understood the impact and therefore wanted to amplify the message of love and care. So, on the evening following with concert, we will be broadcasting a condensed version of the show. But ahead of that, we will be promoting the event and the cause on air, online, and on social media and provide an easy way for Americans to contribute to the cause," said Grover.

Susan Thompson of Fiat said once her company became aware of the project they were overwhelmed and wanted to know how they could help amplify the cause for it to become global.

Shaggy and his team are currently working on the roster of acts to take to the stage. Deejay Popcaan and gospel act Kevin Downswell are already confirmed.

"We're trying not to repeat too many artistes. But there are artistes that people have not seen in a while and they are great. We're looking for artistes with big international songs. Because we have iHeartMedia on board this year, which will be broadcasting two hours of the concert to an American audience, we want those artistes who are great reggae artistes and have those great reggae hits," Shaggy added.

Started in 2009, the biennial Shaggy & Friends concert has raised more than US$1.6 million for the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

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