Nadine Sutherland – Hitbound! 1986
By I. Jabulani Tafari
On Sunday, May 11, 1986, the fifth anniversary of Bob Marley’s physical departure from this earth, Tuff Gong recording artist Nadine Sutherland was the only Reggae artist in a Marley Memorial/Mother’s Day Soca/Reggae Spectacular at the Carillion Hotel, Miami Beach. From the moment that she entered the spotlights, it was obvious that the 18-year-old teen queen is already a veteran of the stage, is overflowing with confidence and thoroughly enjoys herself when performing.
Fittingly, Nadine was the only performer that night to pay tribute to Brother Bob in word and song. She crowned her set with Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” which she said was especially for her mother Beverly Sutherland, who was present in the audience for that Mother’s Day show. I spoke with Nadine after her very well-received performance.
JABU: What does Bob Marley mean to you?
NADINE: ‘He means a lot’ would sound like a cliché, seen. But the first thing I can remember which played a very important part in my life was the first time I went to (Tuff Gong) studio. I was standing and singing and he came in and said, ‘Give the youth a seat nuh man.’ And he was the one who went for the seat and told me to sit down. Can you imagine how I felt when this great man, this big Reggae superstar went for a seat and made me sit down? It was nice. And I’ve seen him on other occasions and he was always very nice and cool and I heard that I was one of his favorite singers. He means a lot, the little that I’ve known. I’ve grown very much to like him.
I’ve seen [Bob Marley] on other occasions and he was always very nice and cool and I heard that I was one of his favorite singers.
JABU: How do you manage to fit in the entertainment business with your schoolwork?
NADINE: Well, it’s not a thing that I manage. It has to be done and it just happens and it is done. Right now I’m at EXED Community College doing business administration first year.
JABU: What kind of live performance have you done since the start of ’86?
NADINE: I did two concerts in Bermuda in February (with the Ital Foundation band) and then I went to Jamaica and did a (Tuff Gong) concert in Negril. Then I did a small concert at CAST (College of Arts Science and Technology) for Winnie Mandela. That was a good concert. And here I am in Miami now.
JABU: What was the reception like in Bermuda considering that your records are not really distributed there?
NADINE: I was surprised you know, because the first night, people who were Reggae fans, who listen to the radio and hear my music, they came out. And the second night the crowd at the ‘Spinning Wheel’ doubled the first night.
JABU: OK. So what kind of studio work do you have on line?
NADINE: Right now I’m not working on anything because of school, but I think that during the summer we’ll start working seriously on a new 45.
JABU: Who manages you and produces you records?
NADINE: My management is my parents and the producer is between Willie Lindo and Sangie Davis.
JABU: You’ve had a lot of good songs written for you. Any chance of you going into songwriting yourself?
NADINE: To tell you the truth, I’m very good at poetry. I can write very good poems. I’ve written two songs but I haven’t recorded them, no one knows about them. I think I have an inferiority complex about my music. When you want to write something I know you have to take it step by step. If I’m putting out something I want the standard to be very very good, and right now I’m in the learning stage of writing music. So I guess, when you hear the BOOM song come out, you’ll know that I’ve graduated in the writing field.
JABU: Do you play any instruments?
NADINE: Well actually, I took the piano. I wouldn’t say I play. I know the keys and everything, so I took it. I can help myself. And the recorder, I learnt to play it at Andrews.
JABU: Is this your first show in Miami?
NADINE: No, it’s my second show. My first show was in 1982. It was a Bob Marley Memorial too, with the Tuff Gong posse – Melody Makers, Rita, the I-Threes and Wailers, and everybody.
JABU: How long have you been singing professionally?
NADINE: Six years.
JABU: In terms of knowing what it takes to be a performing and recording artist, would you say you’ve still got a lot to learn or that you’ve covered most of the basics?
NADINE: As always, everybody learns something new every day and I think I’ve got a lot more to learn. Nuff nuff more because I’ve been protected from certain things in the music business. As you notice, I always have parents and my family around me. So certain things in the business that people know about, I just hear about them. So there is more to learn, more to experience. I’m still in my youth stage.
JABU: Do you think it’s anymore difficult for you as a young female artist, as compared to, say Ziggy Marley, Junior Tucker, or any other young male artists?
NADINE: Yes, it’s different. People tend to watch me more, and women have certain standards to live up to. And being a singer, especially a young one, everybody seems to think something immoral. That’s one of the problems I can’t face up to. Because when I hear the rumors ‘bout me and I know they’re untrue, it kind of hurts me and I know I’m not like that. The next thing again, a young man will be able to tour, ‘cause I’m a girl, I have to have some guardian or somebody.
…women have certain standards to live up to…being a singer, especially a young one, everybody seems to think something immoral.
JABU: Thank you very much and all the best.
NADINE: Yeah, it was nice talking with you, Jabulani.
Chances have proved to be right for Reggae lovers in North America to get an opportunity to see the Tuff Gong teen queen in action during the summer of 1986. With negotiations finalized for two Bunny Wailer shows in the U.S. and maybe England, Nadine has been included in the Solomonic package along with Leroy “Heptones” Sibbles and the 809 Band. Then again, there’s a possibility of a six-week summer tour of North America by a group of Tuff Gong artists. Either way, one thing is certain, Nadine Sutherland is internationally hitbound.