The year 2021 has started out with a bang for singer Nadine Sutherland, and at a time when the pandemic has reinforced life’s lessons on gratitude and the need to be constantly giving thanks to the Almighty for even the itsy-bitsy blessings, the artiste is in her zone. “Every day is a blessing. Sometimes I feel like we are playing Russian roulette with the virus. My family was rocked by it, but thank God, nobody died, and I find myself loving my parents more, loving my family more. But this pandemic just makes me realise the fragility of life, and in 2020 I thought about death more than I have ever done,” the Action singer shared with The Gleaner.
But that in no way diminishes that fact that the 1979 Tastee Talent contest winner, who celebrated 40 glorious years of music in December 2019, is still potently connected to life by living it to the fullest and being the best version of herself. And that means getting “really excited” over the fact that her EP, Inna Mi Blood, made the list of Top 56 Reggae Album for 2020, compiled by Reggaeville, arguably the leading online reggae magazine and which is based in Germany.
“I was in the midst of doing the thesis for my masters when Mad Professor, the dub producer out of England, called me about an album project. He flew me up and we did some of the work, then in 2020 he told me that he was releasing it as an EP,” Sutherland explained. Inna Mi Blood has been described as “a marriage of Jamaica, UK, US, and Guyana. A meeting of cultures and a meeting of styles”. Mad Professor, who is originally from Guyana, in 2020 celebrated 40 years as a dub producer.
With the world on hold, a promotional tour for the EP was completed virtually and involved interviews with people in Africa and Europe, who were gushing over the project. That has translated into Inna Mi Blood being short-listed alongside albums and EPs such as Buju Banton’s Upside Down 2020; Popcaan’s Fixtape; Protoje’s In Search of Lost Time; Skip Marley’s Higher Place; Chezidek’s Hello Africa; Dexta Daps’ Vent; Richie Spice’s Together We Stand; Stonebwoy’s Anloga Junction and Tarrus Riley’s Healing.
Reggaeville pointed out that for the past years, the album poll contained 200-300 releases, but for 2020 a preselection was done via an internal vote. Thirty people submitted their favourite releases of 2020, a total of 160 different releases. Fifty-six of these entries made it to the final round and are now open to public voting.
THE ULTIMATE SERIES
With voting open until January 14, Sutherland is in promotional mode, happily asking all her fans to visit the site and give her a vote. Sutherland expressed her doubts about actually winning, but even so, she is still boldly going forth, and is also drenched with enthusiasm over another project that has her name carved on it. Her Dangerzone-produced Chatty Chatty single has been called up for Tads Records’ hard-hitting The Ultimate series, a dynamic dancehall compilation which made its debut in 2007 and has been released every year since. The Ultimate 2021 features, among others, Vybz Kartel, Mr Vegas, Popcaan, Busy Signal, Mortimer and Sanchez, with Mykal Rose and Black Uhuru as featured artistes. The promo ad starts off with Kartel and closes with Sutherland featured in a clip from the Chatty Chatty video, in which she encapsulates the ultimate dancehall diva.
“I hear that Daddy Tads loves Chatty Chatty and he reached out to Dangerzone to get it on the compilation. This means that the song will get another push this year,” a clearly delighted Sutherland said. What this also mean is that her plans to release a new single will be pushed back a little as she allows Chatty Chatty to bask in the spotlight, but her work with Dangerzone continues.
“Perhaps by March/April we will drop the new song,” she said, adding that there was a point in her life recently when she was sure that she was finished with music. “Bwoy, yuh know, if somebody had told me two years ago that all this would be happening, I would not have believed. Last year, there was the Kamala Harris [US vice-president- elect] project, for which I did a dubplate using Action, and then there was the Fatis tribute, where I was asked to perform a song that I did from in the ‘90s, Don’t Throw Pearls. If there is one thing that I have learnt from last year, it is that whatever seed you plant, make sure that they are good ones.”
In December, Sutherland was part of the Earth Feel It, a 27-minute film documentary produced by Kareem ‘Remus’ Burrell, son of the late Philip ‘Fatis’ Burrell, and filmed by Sameel ‘Samo’ Johnson. It also featured Turbulence, Chezidek, and Gott-Yo, backed by the original Firehouse Crew band (Melbourne Miller, Donald Dennis, Paul Crossdale) and Dean Fraser. Earth Feel It is also the title of the deluxe 7×7-inch vinyl box set of deep cuts, rarities, and previously unreleased recordings from Fatis Burrell’s iconic reggae and dancehall label, Xterminator. This set was compiled by vinyl specialist DJ Carter Van Pelt, curator of VP’s acclaimed Down In Jamaica 40-year retrospective box set.