Bob Andy wrote a song for me

Bob Andy wrote a song for me

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, March 29, 2020

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On Friday when news of the passing of local musical icon Bob Andy became known, singer Nadine Sutherland was left fighting a war of emotions.

A few days prior to his passing, Sutherland had been asked by a mutual friend to visit Bob Andy and sing a song for him. She was asked to sing Higher Ground, a song which he wrote for her more than 30 years ago. Due to the onset of movements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was unable to visit with him before he passed.

“I got the call from a mutual friend on Monday. I was told that he was serious but I got had the impression that I had sometime . So I promised to go and sing for him and I gather when he was told I would come sing for him, he smiles. So when I heard he passed I was shocked.”

The track he wrote for Sutherland was recorded but never released and it was only this past week that she got an opportunity to hear the recording for the first time after all these years.

“I was about 20 years old and Tuff Gong was in transition. Bob Andy was brought in to do A&R work at Tuff Gong and he was commissioned to write a song for me and he wrote Higher Ground. In the years which passed we have been friends. We wouldn't see each other for a long time but when we caught up we would have these great long conversations. I last saw him in August of last year at Marcia's (Griffiths) house. Again, it was another of those great conversations.” Sutherland told the Jamaica Observer.

In 2011 Sutherland was among a cavalcade of artistes who were brought together to perform at a concert in tribute to the prolific singer and songwriter.

“That night was so special for me. Everything was magical. I did feel like jumping which he wrote for Marcia and I just loved every moment to pay tribute to this great man. I can clearly remember looking out on the audience and everyone was just 'dropping legs', dancing to this great music.”

Sutherland would later call on Bob Andy's expertise when she was completing her thesis for a Master of Arts in Cultural Studies from The University of the West Indies, Mona.

“He was so erudite and his intellect was incredible and when I was completing my thesis I went to him as a canon for his take on the musical influences in early Jamaican artistes. He shared with me his own inspirations in Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. I was always struck by his songwriting ability. He is able to convey such strong emotions in his music. You hear pain in a tune like Desperate Lover he uses his voice as an instrument in I've Got To Go Back Home. That combination of lyrics and musicality while not trying to be himself is magical. At the rubric of his music is the ability to touch people deep down and not everyone can do that. I am just left thinking, Bob Andy wrote a song for me,” said Sutherland.


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