It’s been almost 30 years since Terror Fabulous and Nadine Sutherland’s inimitable Action was released and it remains a cornerstone classic in Dancehall music.

Released by Dave Kelly’s Madhouse Records on the Pepperseed Riddim, the song showcased Sutherland’s dynamic vocals in a way fans hadn’t heard before, and set the stage for what would become an even more fruitful career for Fabulous.

In 2013, while speaking to the Jamaica Observer during an interview, Sutherland raved about the song’s unexpected and wild success. She explained then: “Once it was released, the song just took off both locally and overseas – initially in the ethnic markets of North America and England.”

She further noted: “Action was so ridiculously huge; it took us all over the world and exposed us to so much.”, pub-6414436554687900, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

The track is a passionate declaration by Fabulous and Sutherland about what it is that women want. And, with its clever use of sexual innuendos over other more direct means of communicating carnal desire, Action proved to be an energetic, catchy and widely-consumed track that was primed for success.

The Pepperseed riddim had featured many other hits including, Terror Fabulous’ Number 2, General Degree’s Mr. Do It Nice, Daddy Screw and Donovan Steele’s Big Things and Frisco Kid’s Big Speech, but Action has earned reverence in spaces not many Dancehall songs have been.

Hitting the North American markets, Action made its way onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 43 in 1994.

In 2020, Sutherland was tapped by then US Vice Presidential candidate, Kamala Harris, to do a dubplate of Action for her campaign.

Sutherland was equally nervous and excited for the opportunity, and shared that as a child of immigrants, she had a sense of pride about doing the dubplate for Harris. She had explained: “I am a child of immigration as my mother filed for us to go and live in the States, so there is a whole generation of Sutherlands growing up in the US. Growing up, I didn’t have any black heroes or superheroes. The closest thing I had was Wonder Woman. Now, my nieces and nephews in the US have Obama, and they have Kamala Harris, who is female and a child of immigrants, who were also successful. I am very happy to be able to do this.”

Despite the song’s success, Sutherland didn’t feel compelled to chase another hit. Instead, her focus was simply on going where the music took her. Sutherland explained: “I never look for another hit. Action will always be Action. I can only do my best and see where the other works take me.”

In relation to Fabulous, whose voice can be easily mistaken to be that of Buju Banton’s, she told the Gleaner that he was an incredible artist. “[He] was one of the better deejays we have had,” she told them.

Terror Fabulous, Nadine Sutherland

While Sutherland has always been forthcoming in her praises of the classic, Action was at points not as liberating as it ought to have been – a fact she revealed in an interview with Reggae Vibes. 

There, she relayed that: “I’m very blessed to have had that song. I don’t know, it’s a dual thing with ‘Action’. It’s a blessing, but sometimes it’s such a curse, becomes sometimes some people just box you in.”

She went on to explain that, in some ways, the song has defined her career in a lot of eyes – and while that may have its upsides, it has also acted as a limiter for her potential, given her talent and history as someone who Bob and Rita Marley had mentored. She was also signed to Tuff Gong initially.

She shared: “Action obscures Karma. It obscures Chatty Chatty. It obscures Queen, which are great songs. And you know, I’m like, ‘I’m the girl who sang Action. That part of me still exists. And it is there. But I’m also a strong songwriter, and I have some powerful songs. But you know, I guess, sometimes I wonder if the listeners are stuck in 1994. And I have moved past that.”

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