Wednesday, 30 March 2016

THE TALLAWAH INTERVIEW: Shaggy riffs on his evolving philanthropic efforts and new career goals

CASH TO CARE: Shaggy and team with a cheque from WATA/Wisynco at last Tuesday's presentation.

Driven by that relentless philanthropic spirit, Shaggy and his eponymous foundation remain a shining beacon of hope for the patients and staff of the Bustamante Hospital for Children, a charitable cause to which he’s completely devoted. Last Tuesday afternoon, joined by a handful of sponsoring partners from corporate Jamaica, the 47-year-old music icon, who has a few children of his own, brought some cheer to the hospital, when he presented to the directors a cheque of $55 million, representing the proceeds from January’s renewal of his popular fundraising concert. No stranger to TALLAWAH, the megastar spoke with us afterwards about how star power can make a world of difference to a life-saving cause.

TALLAWAH: We were intrigued when you hinted earlier that the Shaggy & Friends concert could become an annual event. Is that really possible?
Shaggy: It could be, but not at the stage that we are having it. You have to understand that whenever we have it [on the lawns of Jamaica House], we have to build a venue from scratch. That means we don’t have running water, we have to build pipes, put in fencing and bathrooms, everything. And all of those things carry costs. If we have a situation where we can somehow make that cost lower and make the whole process easier, then it could work. We don’t have a large team. Shaggy & Friends is basically my wife and myself. We don’t have a massive office that employs like ten people. It’s all volunteer work.

TALLAWAH: We saw iHeart Media coming on board for this year’ staging. How has it been getting international partners to share in the vision?
Shaggy: A lot of them don’t understand because they’re not Jamaican, but we still try. I use my celebrity as much as I can to bring as many artistes as I can. But sometimes it gets difficult. 

TALLAWAH: I can imagine. Tell us about the foundation’s partnership with WATA and the fruit it has borne so far.
Shaggy: I’m loving it. In one month, we raised over five million dollars, so you can imagine if it was for a longer time. But it’s an awesome campaign and we have more of them to do.

TALLAWAH: After raising money for the hospital’s CAT Lab and for a cardiac unit, is the ICU Unit next on your target list?
Shaggy: That’s something we are focused on. It would be nice if we could get it after the next [Shaggy & Friends] event. So we are thinking of other ways to expand the concert, but we have to find a way to make it less costly to put on. In the current ICU Unit, there are only five beds. So it’s like 70,000 [children] to five beds. We have to do something about that.

TALLAWAH: We haven’t forgotten that you’re a chart-topping recording artist. What’s next for you career-wise?
Shaggy: As you know, we just signed a new deal, and we’re coming out, hopefully, by April, with new singles, to be followed, hopefully, by an album.

TALLAWAH: Earlier when you were at the podium talking about your career, you said, “There’s nothing else I can do with fame.” Give us some clarity on that statement.
Shaggy: I’m in a different place in my life and my career right now. I’ve made my fame out of the music of Jamaica, the culture of Jamaica. The culture of Jamaica is what has equipped me with the ability to achieve what I have achieved. And I’ve grown a lot, artistically, over the years. 

TALLAWAH: Apart from releasing new music, what’s the rest of 2016 going to be like for you? Any plans for touring?
Shaggy: Mainly promotion. It’s all about getting a big hit and seeing what comes after that.

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