Trevor Sutherland (born 1946) was born in Christiana, Manchester and made his way to Kingston where he was raised in Trenchtown. Educated there through high school he would be mentored by the great Rasta and musical teacher Joe Higgs. Sutherland began his music career at a young age (13) auditioning for Chris Blackwell’s Island Records and recording for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label under the appropriate name of Youth. His deep love of soul music, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and other Motown artists would give him a very emotional and spiritual vocal style, one that has never left him to this day.
In 1963 Sutherland would join his parents working in the UK and years later an incident involving his first wife and a few other people would result in his arrest on two counts of bodily harm and resisting arrest. It was there in a cold London prison (2 1/2 years 1972-1974) that he tested his faith, read the Bible, and reflected on God; at that moment number 266701 became IJahman. His first single that hit the UK in 1975 Jah Heavy Load expressed to the world what the mission would be, and become a chart topping hit.
The song impressed Chris Blackwell who was having such great success with Bob Marley that he approached IJahman just before the singer’s return to Jamaica following his prison sentence. Once back on the island IJahman entered the studios to record his classic debut album Hail I Hymn released in 1978. The music was new and fresh with great arrangements and instrumentation earning him the nickname “The Ultimate Musician.” This release and the follow up Are We A Warrior would solidify him as a cornerstone of Jamaican conscious roots Reggae. He started his own label Tree Roots Productions and has released over 25 albums worldwide.
For the most part IJahman resides in the hills of central Jamaica in Christiana. He is a quiet humble man who does not support the digital, rhythms, dub-plates, etc. of today’s music business.
IJahman and Groundation linked up at Harry J’s Studio in Kingston, Jamaica (same studio where Haile I Hymn was tracked) to record vocals on Upon The Bridge.