Stitchie 'sizes up' National Award
Stitchie wishes his mother could have seen him receive ODSunday, August 15, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
WHEN the list of recipients of national honours and awards was made public on August 6, among the those to be conferred with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer was the Reverend Dr Cleve Aman Laing for his contribution to the development of reggae and dancehall music, both locally and internationally.
The ceremony of investiture is slated for King's House in St Andrew on October 18.
Known in musical circles as Lieutenant Stitchie, or simply Stitchie, he first made waves on the scene in the mid-1980s with his breakthrough hit Wear Yuh Size. A string of hits would follow to include Natty Dread, and Night and Day would lead to the artiste being signed to Atlantic Records. He then shifted gears and became a Christian, performing his brand of gospel music and spreading the word.
When the Jamaica Observer caught up with Stitchie, he shared that the call to inform him of his latest achievement came as a surprise and left him stunned.
“I was in a parking lot. I had just got back to my car when the phone rang. It was a number I did not know, so I was a little hesitant as I don't usually answer numbers that I don't know. I reluctantly opened the line and waited for the caller to speak. The person told me they were call on behalf of the prime minister and that she was informing me that the Government was conferring a national award on me. Would I accept? I said: 'Yes, sure!' But all the time still wondering if this was a prank.”
After sharing the details of the award and other pertinent information, the call ended. Stitchie explained that the telephone conversation left him dumbstruck.
“It was so much to take in one gulp. And it's not like I don't think I am worthy of the award, but all when mi a drive home I was thinking to myself: 'Ah wah jus' happen?' So I called my friend, Ricky Stereo, and told him and he said: 'It's no prank. When God a bless you, that's how it comes'.”
That response was somewhat of a reassurance, but Stitchie waited for the announcement to be made officially on Independence Day before sharing the information. Reality set in once he saw the official announcement in the printed press.
“I could not stop the tears. I was overwhelmed as everything rushed to my mother. She is now longer here and I could not help but wish she were still around to see how her son, the baby she carried inside her, has turned out and to see him receive a National Award for his positive contribution to the country and the world,” he said.
For Stitchie, being conferred with a National Award was never part of the plan when he first launched out. Instead, he just wanted to use the music to inform, educate, and entertain his audience. He, however, noted that the music has always been part of his journey from his earliest days in primary school in Spanish Town. He consistently married that with his pursuit for higher levels of education and, in later years, his religious and spiritual path.
“There is never a pause where the music is concerned regardless of the challenges. I am never deterred and often use my detractors as motivation. I am comfortable in my skin. And not locked in by the walls of religiosity, not locked into rituals. I am a spiritual man and the faith in Christ that I embrace is a verb not a noun, so it is more about action.”
It is that belief in self that Stichie believes has brought him to the place that he is now.
Should the 50-plus year old Stitchie of today have had the opportunity to speak to his younger self, it is that comfort level with himself and who he is, that would form the base of the conversation.
“I would tell my younger self to continue believing in who you are. The worst thing you can do is not know who you are, then you end up not knowing where you are going. That is what got me where I am, so youngster, continue that thinking, it is working,” said Stitchie.