Home Interviews Nadine Sutherland

Nadine Sutherland

Nadine Sutherland
RL: Hi Miss Sutherland, thanks for taking the time to speak to RockLuxury.com, how are you doing?
NS: I’m doing good thank you, I’m ready, and it’s a pleasure
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RL: Some of us may be more familiar with you than others, for those who aren’t aware, who is Nadine Sutherland?
NS: I am a protégé of the King of reggae music Bob Marley. For many years I did not speak about it because I feel many people have exploited his name.  I now claim my history with him because in going back to school I actually had to study him in a class.  This brought it home to me in a very very spiritual way. We had to go to the museum which is the studio in which I first recorded….
 RL: On Hope Road?
NS: Yes, I have a painting that Bob Marley commissioned for my first album at home, all this has combined to bring me back to my Tuff Gong days, my roots days, My Judy Mowatt days, I love Judy Mowatt…. I’m a person who was a part of songs that brought main stream popularity in an era in which dancehall really went main-stream in America and became a part of main-steam American culture and that is still very current. I’m a cultural studies student at the University of the West Indies, a Rising Stars judge who has been a part of that show becoming a cultural phenomenon…. That’s who I am
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RL: To begin at the most formative part of your career, how did you become a singer, when did you know that you wanted to be a singer?
NS: I don’t even know (laughs) it was so natural, I just remember singing, I don’t have a memory of when I began to sing.  I just remember singing and dancing at a very early age.  One of the memories that I have is that my mother took me to a church, you know how during the week they have concerts sometimes? And my mother or my auntie said I can sing, and I sang. And the people said “Yes man, she can really sing”.
RL: That’s beautiful…
NS: I can’t pinpoint the age… I just remember my mother grabbing me up from beside a sound box once and saying “Jesus Christ have mercy this pitney going kill me”…(laughs) I can’t tell you what age or time,  don’t have that memory
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RL: So you were a precocious child
NS: No eno, I was not precocious.  Matter of fact I was shy, except for when I was singing or dancing, then I’d just go back into myself.  One of my favourite places was under the bed (laughs)
RL: Under the bed?
NS: Yes, my mother tells me I used to go under the bed


RL: You know what’s crazy? That was one of my favourite places also, especially when it rained…


RL: How did you come to the attention of Bob Marley?
NS: I used to sing around my community of Above Rocks, and someone told me about the Tastee Talent contest, I entered and made it to the finals. I won, that was the first Tastee Talent show, and one of my prizes was a recording contract with Tuff Gong.  I’ve heard that he wanted people’s lives as artistes to be different than his because he really went through a lot….

RL: Who was Bob Marley to you then?
NS: He was a figure I saw sporadically, he was always away touring.  But I remember the first time I met him, I just saw this man smiling at me.  Now I realize he was around me, planning my career, planning my life, and planning the best for me, and I had no clue.  I remember being in the studio and him coming in and he said “put her on a chair and give her the mic” then he left. I never knew he was commissioning people to do my pictures, that he was involved in the mixing of my 1st song “Starvation On The Land”, that he was in the control booth while I was singing…I didn’t know …that he was constantly working on my behalf.. I was 13 when he died, so a lot got aborted then….


 RL: What does Bob Marley represent to you now?
NS: He is my angel. He is my musical ancestor.  He is one of my greatest inspirations in terms of right now.  I feel more purposeful in my music, politically, more purposeful as a Jamaican because he loved this place so much, more purposeful of my place in the world as a Jamaican, from what he did with his life… I have to respect and honour him because he gave me the baton that I’ve been running with, so I give thanks to him.
RL: How would you describe your experiences as a child star, were you aware that you were a star?
NS: I wasn’t aware that I was a star.  I experienced a lot that has made me very grounded… I don’t take stardom the way a lot of people do…. Because I wasn’t aware that I was a star.


RL: Did your parents have any fears of superstardom that they communicated to you then?
NS: I guess they had to be more protective, which I didn’t mind.


 RL:  How did they balance the roles of parents and managers?
NS: My father was my manager and he insisted that I go to school and get an education and learn the golden rule.  I am thankful that they didn’t take me out of school and exploit me but insisted that I get an education and it has helped in how I view life.


RL: Would you allow your children now, as they allowed you to explore the music business at such a tender age?
NS: No I would not. I would wait until they have a stronger sense of self.  But I feel this was my destiny… I don’t think when I entered the talent contest they even thought about what would happen.  They just went with the flow of my life.  If I saw my child singing, would I allow them to enter a talent contest? I really don’t know.  Looking at my experiences, maybe at 18 when I think they have an entrenched sense of self


RL: What were your biggest aspirations as a child performer?
NS: I was performing and it was so natural that I didn’t have dreams of being a singer, I wasn’t thinking of being a singer.  I wanted to be an interpreter.  Singing and dancing was not an ambition, it was so automatic, so natural. To have it as a career wasn’t a thought, not until my 20s
 1_2911RL: You mentioned that you didn’t see it as a career until your 20s. Anything you’d change or do differently in terms of that perspective?
NS: Definitely.  I would. I went to school, I went to college.  School and singing coexisting was the norm. When the realization of singing came to me in my 20s, and with it the realization that I was famous. That was a scary thing. I thought I was living a normal life. And didn’t realize until then that I was famous, I had to grasp and understand that my life was different


RL: Once you realized that you are Nadine Sutherland, and that there was a public looking at you, did that impact you?
NS: Of course.  People said I was cracked out, all kind of things.  I was the biggest table talk.  I almost had a nervous breakdown, but then it was a good thing for me because it helped me to better understand the malice, the envy, the expectations that come with fame. And I realized that people create this thing around you and you become entertainment. And that was my biggest lesson in what being famous is and brings.  That has been my biggest lesson.
RL: That is crazy
NS: Yes, I went to NY to live after “Action”, thinking I’m going to find isolation and no one would know me.. (laughs) it didn’t work out that way.  It’s machinery, it’s a mechanism.  I had to accept that
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RL: What are your most poignant memories from the crack talk, the drug allegations?
NS: I most remember that there was a culture of drug allegations.  That was the time for that.  They were lambasting Whitney Houston at the time, and it was just like that was the time for that…


RL: While that was going on, did you have a support system? Did people in your personal life entertain or subscribe to the gossip?
NS: I had support after, but I blame myself because I was trying to dismiss it. It wouldn’t go away… I’d just lost my deal… was back in Jamaica, I was dealing with a lot at the time, I wasn’t trying to deal with it, it was just overwhelming.  After a while the malice was just too much. I came to NY, came around my family, after a while I put it in perspective and just moved on

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Nadine & TerrorRL: “Action”
NS: Yes, “Action” (sings refrain)
RL: (Laughs)..… When recording it with Terror Fabulous and Dave Kelly…. Did you realize that song was going to be one of “those songs”?
NS: Never….Never. I had no idea.  None of the songs that I’ve sung that have become dancehall classics… I had no idea.  I was young, filled with ideas… I was going to UWI, and was invited by Gussie Clark to do background vocals.  I was enjoying my time… having fun with my friends….. Dave Kelly & Terror were laughing at me because I was dancing more than I was singing….


RL: You liked dancing more than singing?
NS: Girl! Yes! I really wanted to be a dancer, my friends and I used to dance all the time, you couldn’t tell us nuttn, we swear we were doing something (laughs). But when I see the skills of dancers nowadays… we were nowhere on their level (laughs)

RL: “Anything For You”, another classic, did you see the hit while you were recording?
NS: I was signed to Electra, Snow was coming out with his album.. So many things happen in reggae music that we take for granted.  At  the time, a lot of people were being signed left right and center. But once they realized they music wasn’t selling, they got cut.  So they just dropped the whole reggae fraternity. Me included….


RL: I just remember the remix with Culture Knox, “It’s all about love, love it is all about”… That was a classic, everybody would wait up for that song to be played on Video Music Box
NS: Laughs…Last year Rebel Salute Terror performed, and I performed with him,   it was awesome.


RL: I missed that. but, differently, I love Terror Fabulous
NS: How yuh mean, “show me unnu hand, all original…”


RL: Yow, yuh see when the intro to that drop? Everybody tun gangsta eno (laughs)
NS: With the gun finger dem, everybody love that song man




RL: How did you feel when “Action” was politicized? (The JLP used it as part of their campaign in 1993)
NS: Very scared, very pissed.  I was very hurt, felt like the whole political system… when I was a child, a political party tried to kill my family. I still have the scars on my knees. I felt betrayed. My psychology of politics is the trauma of running down the gully with gunmen chasing us.. I was hurt I was traumatized, it was awful


RL: Are you serious? Was your family very political?
NS: No, but they thought we were


RL: That is crazy
NS: When they used action, I never got any threats…
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 RL: But you know people are gonna assume you’re aligned
Nadine: Yeah…But no-one came to me directly but people were saying things
 RL: “Call My Name” album 2007, reflectively, your thoughts?:
NS: It could have done so much better… In my spirit I believe it was a very good album


RL: If we were to be granted a peek inside a typical day in your life, what things do you think would stand out?
NS: A typical day in my life, writing songs for Rory Stone Love, or writing essays or writing research papers for school, writing songs for Danger Zone  … I basically have no time… I wake up at 4am meditate, run….then my day is work


RL: Do you think that being a person in the spotlight for so long has adversely impacted your life?
NS: What can I say… in everything there are pros and cons.  What I have gotten… in terms of love from the Jamaican public. It makes me cry… people go out of their way to be kind to be me… daily. People will just come to me and say “I Love You some much”.. I may not be the artiste of the moment, but they still show me love. They’ve seen me in so many different facets, they’ve seen me in so many different ways and roles and they show me love.  On the other hand there is gossip..  But what I receive in terms of the positive far outweighs the negative. Mad men, mad women, ministers of government, shottas every one. Comes to me and relates to me in a loving way


RL: That’s beautiful
NS: That’s a blessing, and that’s life… the yin and the yang


RL: True
NS: I’ve learned to accept and settle in that space that my reality won’t be any different, and thank God for it.


RL: One of the things that stands out about you and that everyone always comments on is your beauty, people say you have an energy, it almost seems to radiate from within…..
NS: Me? (laughs)


RL: (Laughs), yes you…
NS: Well, I am very influenced by Rasta, I am not a Rasta, I’ve never practiced.. but it’s influenced my life.  I eat well, and exercise. I can go days on just vegan food. I meditate a lot, and that is it.  One thing I know is I don’t like gossip. I don’t entertain anyone saying bad things about anyone around me…I believe God loves everyone and everyone has a destiny.. I think I have a pretty alright life


RL: I share your philosophy on the whole gossip thing too, I detest it
NS: (Laughs).. Yes.  I also love spending time with my niece and my nephew, we go movies, prank call people, just have fun

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Nadine SutherlandRL: Do you have a beauty /fitness regimen?
NS: I run everyday. I do strength training. I’m certified as an aerobics instructor.. I go to my bed early, them call mi fowl (laugh).. Wake up early, thank God and meditate….Mi know say the universe really really provide fi yuh, and when yuh do good, good things come back to you


RL: True, a friend of mine also teases me with the same fowl thing too, she say mi go bed too early
NS: (Laughs) I don’t really get caught up in a lot of things because I know I know God has given me a lot of things so I don’t run down Babylon


RL: Understood….
NS: When yuh free and yuh nah pree certain things, I truly believe it shows…


 RL: What makes Nadine Sutherland ecstatically happy?
NS: I’ve learned over the years that happiness is not contingent on anything…. When you delay your happiness… happiness is a choice that you make. I don’t wait on anything to make me happy. Happiness is an attitude.  I wake up with a sense of gratitude. It’s better to live from a zone of an attitude of happiness. Live in the moment, be happy


RL: True, that’s a good philosophy
NS: If you can’t wake up in the morning happy when you have nothing, you will never wake up happy, even when you have everything, You have to make a choice to be happy with what you have


RL: What tugs at your heartstrings, is there anything that puts you in a more somber contemplative mood?
What puts me in a somber mood… I really wish the world was a more just place.  I hate to see children suffer.  When I’m on the street and I see the beautiful children, I wish I was Santa Clause every day of the year. I try to make every child that comes into my space happy and feels affirmed and validated… I just …


RL: That’s serious
NS: Yes… I remember an interview I did with Ian Boyne, and afterword he said to me “You’re so intelligent” and it meant a lot.  Coming from him, a man who is known for his intellect. I just wish that every youth, I could say something positive to them.  That tugs at my heart.  Children, that the world could be so harsh and cruel to babies.


 RL: Do you ever feel the need to “get away” from being “Nadine Sutherland”?
NS: No, when I was younger, but now.. No, I hold it up, bless it up and thank God fi it. A so the ting set fi me…

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Nadine Sutherland1RL: I’ve always noticed a hint of bohemianism juxtaposed with an air of refinement in your dress and your carriage, would you say that is a correct assessment?
NS: You’re speaking from the point of being an observer. I can’t say anything about it from a critical or analytical perspective. I’m not aware of what I do from a natural space so I really can’t comment on that.  I’m just being


RL: What are your style philosophy/influences?
NS: Everything,  There are moments that I would wear.. I like natural looks… My natural look is very refined, very classy, I like makeup, and I like dressing up. But then I can also be very very rootsy. I don’t like be very one dimensional….


RL: Has your life and style influenced your music or has your music influenced your life and style?
NS: Mmmmmm. I think the two things go together. There are times I feel very… like I’m a college student now.  So I’m into the deep culture, that’s definitely influencing my music. Sometimes my music,,, like “Action”? I just want to put on some likkle clothes weh mi can bubble inna


RL Laugh
NS: (Laughs) I’m not a Rasta queen, but I’m not a dancehall queen, I like my middle ground, my life affects my music and my music affects my life


RL: If you were your best friend, what do you think you’d be most appreciative of about yourself?
NS: There’s nothing that you tell me as a friend that I would tell anybody else. I’ll keep your secrets. Even if me and you vex, people not going to know your business.


RL: What would you say to yourself in response to that?
NS: I don’t know….(laughs). The only person I trust right now is God…


NS: That’s awful right ?
RL: No, it’s honest….
NS: There are people I thought would be there for me and they’ve screwed me over… there’s people who’ve been there who I never expected…I’ve learned a lot about human nature, and that there’s good and bad in everything..
RL: At this stage of your life, having earned the accolades you’ve garnered and the respect and admiration of so many people globally, if you could write the next chapter of your life, how would you script it?
NS: (Exhale)…. To tell you the truth, I feel like… I just, right now I’m just open and going with the universe.  I’m just waiting and doing the best that I can. I tell young people, discipline and commitment, are all qualities that we need,  Right now my girl, me a try live life to the best of my ability,,, in everything that I do, As a student, in the songs that I sing.. As a person walking the earth,,, I want to be meaningful… I want to validate and affirm everyone that comes into my path. I don’t know what that’s going to lead me to.


RL: Thank you so very much for your time and candidness, I appreciate it
NS: One Love


Miss Sutherland is currently pursuing a Masters in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies (Kingston).  She is also working with Rory ( Stone Love) and Danger Zone (known for their work with Jah Cure) on new music and will hopefully be coming out with an album or singles in the near future.

 Her cultural studies work at school has definitely influenced her current music and she describes herself as being in a good authentic place that allows her the freedom to do both reggae and dancehall. She does not lean to one side of the musical spectrum and represents both because “that’s the truth of who I am and what I represent”.

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