The message is always positive. It’s never one to condemn, but to enlighten and spread a message of Christ on a platform of love to all, regardless of your age, your colour, your class, your creed, you know, it’s for everyone.” – Lt. Stitchie, in an interview.
There are many artistes who make their names based on inspiration from their music, a name that encompasses who they are, or a particular event which occurred at some point in their lives. This name follows them through their career and it is specific to them; the name which is used by their supporters to identify them—their alias.
Lieutenant Stitchie (Lt. Stitchie) was born as Cleveland Laing and has over the years created a career as a Jamaican deejay who identified with the dancehall genre but then converted to gospel reggae following a car accident in 1997.
“I’ve changed the face of dancehall music from being just about rhyming to writing stories using colorful adjectives, figures of speech; like similes, metaphor, personification, and so on. I introduced lyrical styles by spelling while delivering a powerful message in a song, stuttering deliberately while flowing on a rhythm flawlessly, speed rapping lyrics on a rhythm at tremendous pace without losing the tempo and simultaneously delivering the lyrics with clarity and not a babel.” – Lt. Stitchie in an interview.
Lt. Stitchie will be performing at the first annual YOWronto Music Festival, in Toronto, Canada on July 2, 2017.
YOWronto Music Festival is a music extravaganza, in its first annual season, launching this year to coincide with the celebration of Canada’s 150th year of Confederation.
This Festival will be held at Woodbine Mall on Saturday July 1, and Sunday July 2, 2017, and will boast a variety of activities.
The YOWronto Music Festival will have performances from various music genres including International performing artistes Tessanne Chin, Alison Hinds, Baby Cham Romain Virgo, Lieutenant Stitchie, Eric Donaldson, and Professor Nuts.
The YOWronto Music Festival is perfect for the entire family, music lovers, other artistes, or anyone who wants to have an awesome experience.
Learn more about Yowronto Music Fesitval here.
Like most Jamaicans, Lt. Stitchie has a back story. He was born in Spanish Town, St. Catherine on the beautiful island of Jamaica in 1965 and in his early life worked as a biology teacher at the Spanish Town School. He later realized that it was not his calling, but still decided to teach while searching for a career in the music industry.
Lt. Stitchie disclosed in an interview that,
“I introduced lessons: like Biology, English Language, West Indian history and so, from high school curriculum to dancehall fans globally. I’m the first dancehall artist who is a professionally trained teacher of physical education and biology, plus there are so many other positive contributions that I’ve added, like so many other great dancehall icons before and after my exposure on the scene, to the colorful painting of this magnificent piece of art on the canvas of dancehall music.”
In the 1970s he became a singer and his early success catapulted him into a music career and by the mid-1980s he worked with sound systems as the alias DJ Ranking Noseworthy on the Django sound system. Time passed and he released his first single under the name Ranking Citrus or Citchie, derived from his love for citrus. He then worked on the Stereo One sound system, thus evolving into Stitchie.
In 1986 brought Stitchie recorded the single “Wear Yuh Size” followed by the first album of his career, “Great Ambition”, one year later his single, “Natty Dread”, topped the Jamaican charts for a period of fourteen weeks and achieved great success with his albums and singles. Scouted by Dave Rodney of the Jamaica Tourist Board in Kingston, who saw Stitchie’s raw talent, he earned a record deal with the renowned Atlantic Records in 1988.
“Stitchie brings high level dancehall energy to gospel reggae. I always knew he was not a fly by night because of the dept and substance of this man. I am not surprised that he has continued to prevail in reinventing himself, to address his own personal reality.” – Dave Rodney.
Since Yellowman, he was the first dancehall hall artiste to sign a deal with Atlantic Records and with that contract he debuted albums such as ‘The Governor’, ‘Wild Jamaican Romances’, and ‘Rude Boy’. In addition, Rodney aided in Stichie becoming the face of many commercial gigs and the face of ‘Red Stripe Beer’, ‘The Jamaica Tourist Board’ and ‘Buckingham OJ’ which also helped Stitchie gain endorsements for both reggae and dancehall. ‘Drum and Bass Music’ was Stitchie’s established record label to which he released his singles ‘Nuh Necessary’, ‘Undisputed’ and ‘Nuh Tek Nuh Talk. The singles have gotten playtime in Jamaica, New York, Miami and the United Kingdom.
He signed with Penthouse Records and collaborated with legends like Marcia Griffths, making the single ‘Special Gift’ on the Answer Riddim. He also created the single in 1993 on the Mind Behind The Wind Riddim, ‘Apple of My Eye’, and in 1994 ‘Envy’ came on the hooks of the Rope In Riddim which voted him ‘Deejay of The Year’ in Jamaica. ‘Night Club’ was also recorded with Penthouse Records on the Sexy Girls Riddim in 1997.
While his popularity grew on the international scene, he lost some of his following in the dancehall scene in Jamaica and was pushed to return to Kingston studios. In 1994 his return produced hits for Danny Browne, Donovan Germain and King Jammy—all notable producers. Upon his return he developed singles such as ‘Bun It down’, ‘Hello Carol’ and ‘Hot Like The Sun’ and he also released ‘Gangsta’ and ‘Bangarang’, two albums in 1995, on the VP Records and Shanachie Records respectively. Throughout his dancehall career, he dropped fourteen number one singles.
His Conversion to Christianity
In August, 1997 Stitchie met in an unfortunate car accident when he was on his way to Montego Bay, Jamaica to perform for Reggae Sumfest. While in the hospital, he was given a Gideon Bible by a Canadian boy and once he read it, he asked for forgiveness of his sins and devoted his life to Christianity having been so moved by the word of God. He was no longer a deejay for dancehall music and began working in the genre of gospel reggae.
“It’s well received on a much wider scale than it was before the transition because the message is one that is universal and it’s about the most powerful weapon that we have and that we seldomly use, which is love. So the message is all about that.” – Lt. Stitchie in an interview.
He, however, completed the final album of his dancehall career which he named ‘Raw Episode’ prior to starting afresh as a changed man.
“My assignment is now one to share this message of love on the platform of Christ to all who’s willing to hear, through my music which is one of the most potent methodology to impart knowledge and information. This has brought me to five continents thus far, namely: Africa, Europe, North America, South America and Asia with more left to come as the journey has just begun.” – Lt. Stitchie.
Stichie went on to study the Bible and understand it more and at that time his music was put on the backburner and later on his first album in gospel reggae was launched in 1999 – ‘To God Be The Glory’.
“The way I present Christ and I present Yeshua Hamashiach is never on a religious or confrontational basis. In fact, the scripture states: If anyone thinks that he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. So, it’s not to push my belief on anyone, but to share the love that I receive from Christ, to share it with you, to say ‘Listen, I would love you to taste and see,” said Lt. Stitchie in an interview.
He never stopped there and in 2002 he was awarded ‘Outstanding Male Reggae Vocal Performance of The Year’ at the Caribbean Gospel Music Marlin Awards and throughout his Christian life he performed at many events and occasions evangelizing and spreading the word to his listeners. He has been credited in the referents of history of reggae music in countries like Germany as one of the first to bring reggae music to Europe, and the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JARIA) commemorated his contributions with the Iconic Award. He is also etched in the pages of the ‘Guinness Book of World Records of who’s who in Reggae Music’ and inducted into New York’s Gospel Hall of Fame.
“I’ve been doing globally that have been affecting people’s lives in a positive way. It was their way of acknowledging the works that I’ve been doing over the years and my consistent contribution to the development of Reggae music globally. Going way back, I was the person who brought Dancehall music to Germany and to all of Europe, as early as 1989. At the same time the Berlin wall was being torn down and I was physically here to help do that.” – Lt. Stitchie in an interview.
His work did not go unnoticed as in 2012, Cornerstone Christian University in the state of Orlando, Florida, awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contribution to the music he so passionately promoted throughout the world. The Jamaica GHF president and Founder, Bishop Dr. J.O. Baker inducted Stitchie into the Gospel Hall of Fame in January 2016 at a ceremony in Kingston, Jamaica and two years later his autobiography – ‘The Power of Determination’ – was sprung unto selves and stores in the island in commemoration of his life and impact.
“I idolize Lt. Stitchie because he is an inspiration to many. His songs have led over two hundred souls to the kingdom of God, including his own brother and his brother’s wife. Lt. Stitchie’s song “Fast and Pray” is a transformational song, and the lyrics have led even his friends in the reggae/dancehall industry to embrace Christ.” – Sharifa Small, a fan of Lt. Stitchie.
In 2013 Papa San, another artiste who converted to Christianity and who clashed with Stitchie at the first staging of STING concerts, later made peace as Kingdom Ambassadors and released the collaboration video ‘One Blood’ and became role models for young artistes.
“I look up to veteran artists like Lieutenant Stitchie and Professor Nuts (veteran artist starring as a lead actor in “Me and Mi Kru” with Benzyl Hype on Television Jamaica, TVJ), who inspire me to write intelligent and constructive lyrics; not merely rhymes.”— Spragga Benz, who is an actor in ‘Shottas’ and a prolific songwriter.
He released albums with a number of record labels including Flash Hit Records from France as well as the singles ‘Letter to Dad’, ‘Turn it up’ and ‘War Path’. His album entitled ‘Salt and Light’ was released in 2016. He has been all across the world, places like Nigeria, touring the United Kingdom, The United States and Europe.
“Music is there to provide you with that level of entertainment and to take you away from your troubles or to bring you in confrontation with it and show you how to deal with it. That’s what the motive and the mission is right now. As the album is stating, Salt And Light… it’s to provide Light in the hour of darkness and to bring flavour to your life!” – Lt. Stichie.
Lt. Stitchie is known around the world for his music, not just his conversion to Christianity and his journey to get there. He has also tours and makes guest appearances of several gospel and reggae music festivals and shows. He says, “They knew my music and came to the shows because they knew who I was in the larger picture of Reggae. I also did a major media tour, I went to several TV stations: CBN, 700 Club, Premium… newspapers and magazines too, that kind of stuff.” – Lt. Stitchie interview.
Lieutenant Stitchie is undoubtedly one of the most sought after Jamaican artistes. He is known for his electrifying and captivating high energy in each performance as well as an eloquent motivational speaker of the Word of God. He continues to be a beacon of light to many of his supporters who admire his rise, his journey, and talent.
By Alexandra Daley
Lt. Stitchie’s Discography
Great Ambition (1987), Jammy’s
The Governor (1989), Atlantic
Wild Jamaican Romances (1991), Atlantic
Rude Boy (1993), Atlantic
Mad Cobra Meets Lt. Stitchie and Beenie Man (1995), VP – with Mad Cobra and Beenie Man
Gangsta (1995), VP
Bangarang (1995), Shanachie
Raw Episode (1999), Ernie B
To God Be The Glory (1999),
Ghetto Soldier (2000), Greensleeves
Real Power (2000),
Kingdom Ambassador (2004), Drum & Bass
Real Life Story (2007), Drum & Bass
Real Power (2007), Drum & Bass
Serious Message (2010), Burnside
Warrior” (2015), Earlydays Records
Salt and Light (2016)