Reggae Songstress Nadine Sutherland covers Bill Withers’ “Ain’t no Sunshine”

Reggae Songstress Nadine Sutherland covers a Bill Withers Classic, "Ain't no Sunshine"

Nadine Sutherland

by Howard Campbell

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Twenty-odd years ago, Nadine Sutherland was signed to East West Records, a subsidiary of Elektra Records. One of the songs earmarked for her first album for that label was Ain’t no Sunshine, a cover of the Bill Withers classic.

East West shelved it’s dancehall/reggae acts soon after and song nor album was released.

Recently, Sutherland met with famed American producer Salaam Remi, who produced the song, and they agreed to put it out based on the separation of families at the United States/Mexico border.

“It was not originally influenced by the desperation of families at the US border. During the creative process of recording the album, Salaam came up with the idea of spinning the Bill Withers classic as an Immigrant story. I told him my realities about my mother’s migration to the States when I was 12, and how it impacted me,” Sutherland reflected. “I was telling my story in the studio, most of the men working on the project, had the same Immigrant story. I poured all my pain into singing it.”

Last year, Sutherland met Remi in Jamaica where he was involved in the Sound Clash which was won by his Culture Group.

“We were speaking about the nightmare at the border, I mentioned that Ain’t no Sunshine is an appropriate song to be released at this time. In general, I felt that being an immigrant with ICE and all is somewhat scary,” she related. “He decided that Ain’t no Sunshine will be released, (as) the Immigrant reality is a universal story, that extend beyond Jamaica.”

Sutherland, who celebrated her 40th year as an artist in 2019, was among several Jamaican acts signed to East West. Others were Beres Hammond and Terror Fabulous, with whom she recorded Action, a big hit for the label.

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