“I have always wanted to go back to school. I spent my 20s on the road as an artiste and was always somewhat envious of my friends who could speak of their college days. During the 1990s, I was in London recording and I applied and was accepted to study law, but then came the hit song Action and, as they say, the rest is history. But the quest for university-level education never left me,” she told the Observer
Prior to attending UWI, Nadine held a diploma in business administration from Excelsior Community College. As a result she had to complete some undergraduate courses as a pre-requisite before getting acceptance in the master’s programme.
With regards to her Master’s degree, Nadine explained to the observer that her research paper was the most difficult of her courses. She however, settled on “Vocal Styles in Jamaica: A Study of Hegemonic Disillusion Displayed In Pop Music Culture And The Role Society Played In Informing Them.”
“Even my supervisor was a little baffled when I came up with this topic. But it is virgin territory; no one has looked at the root of our vocal styles in Jamaica. I had to research areas such as political history, ethno-musicology, cultural theories, Jamaican history as well as listen to a lot of music — from mento to dancehall —which I thoroughly enjoyed.” She told the observer.
She told the observer that, “there is a historical trajectory which links our sound to that of R&B artistes. We all know how much a staple R&B was and still is to us as Jamaicans. We have really grown up on it. It was seen as being sophisticated, but even more poignant is the fact that we could see ourselves in many of these artistes who were of African-American descent, so that allowed us to relate to it even more. In this I found why I sing the way I do,” she explained. “When you compare the work of The Wailers, those early songs Like I’m Still Waiting, and Gypsy Woman by The Impressions, the similarities are uncanny.”
Sutherland began performing in 1979, winning the Tastee Talent Contest that year beating Paul Blake and Yellowman. She combined her musical career with studies in business administration, and was the first artist signed by Bob Marley to his Tuff Gong label, recording “Starvation on the Land” while aged eleven.