Celebrating Jamaica Independence Gala

(Pictured:  Shaggy / Photo Credit:  Leonard McKenzie)

On Saturday night, Orville “Shaggy” Burrell walked into the spotlight in the ballroom of the New York Hilton Midtown, filling a spot held only moments earlier by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, The Most Honorable Andrew Holness. Shaggy was the first honoree of the evening, accepting an award for “being an international cultural icon in reggae music and philanthropy” before a crowd of hundreds who comprised the Jamaica 61 Independence Gala.

“Proud and Strong,” the theme of the ceremony, characterized the awardees, who, in addition to Shaggy, included Sheryl Lee Ralph for outstanding contribution to Film & Television; Chief Ruel Stephenson for Leadership in Law and Enforcement and Community Development; among other trailblazers in their respective industries. Shaggy welcomed the tribute, which affirmed his steadfast commitment to his island home and its culture across his decades-long career.

Never one to rest on his laurels – nor seemingly tire – Shaggy will waste no time getting back to work, this week traveling to England for a blitz of engagements centered around Notting Hill Carnival and his soca EP, In the Mood, released through a partnership between Ranch Entertainment and VP Records.

But on this night, the room’s focus belonged to the celebration and betterment of Jamaica. “The goal of the event is to bring together Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica in recognition of the nation’s independence, while supporting various causes at home through the generosity of the attendees,” said Consul General of Jamaica, New York, Alsion Wilson.

It was the Consulate General of Jamaica, New York, along with the Jamaica’s Promise Foundation, and dozens of sponsors, including VP Records, that facilitated the annual event, which each year seeks to raise capital for initiatives to improve Jamaican education, healthcare, and community development.

The announcement that the event had surpassed its fundraising goal, made halfway through the evening, was met with resounding applause from the crowd.