Tendayi Sutherland is a singer, songwriter, and poet from Kent, England. Her single “Kind,” out now on Goosebumps Records, is a deeply spiritual, emotionally fulfilling story about restoration and healing.
“Kind” tells the story of a woman’s relationship with motherhood. Sutherland sings “I went to sleep with a lie/That I couldn’t hold a baby inside of me/or outside of me/That I was too savage to be mum/They once treated me as though I had metal hands/Metal on my hands.” This is gorgeous, tragic writing – vivid pictures and gut-wrenching vulnerability. It’s a brutal way to open a song, with Sutherland’s vocals spotlit and echoing, painting her savagely honest pain.
But “Kind” is no tragedy; it is a song about healing. Sutherland sings “So I said Father would you brush my hair/Restore me form the wild/Hear my prayer/Moisturize your child/Because you, you are so kind/You are so kind.” This might be one of the most beautiful, personable prayers I’ve ever heard. It’s so intimate, unexpected, and endearing to hear someone ask to be moisturized, to have their hair brushed. It speaks to the remarkable healing powers of our mundane cleansing rituals – taking a shower, brushing your hair. These can be as restorative spiritually as they are physically.
For Sutherland, this prayer to be cleansed and restored is the medicine she needs. “I had a dream in the night with a baby called Violet/She was tiny and slim my little match-stick/My hands were summer clouds/I was protective, I was proud/She was the light of my life/The light of life.” The writing here is so tender and precise – it has the meticulous, delicate touch of a poet. It’s honestly murder.
Sutherland writes her music mostly on her own and does much of her mixing and engineering herself. It’s a classic sound – just vocals and piano – but she executes it with a really creative touch. The keys are mostly stripped back, providing a simple harmonic context for the track, but the vocals roam wild. Sutherland’s voice is stunning – rich with emotion and absolutely soaring. There’s some Kate Bush in the free, playful leaps of her melodies. In the last chorus she really lets loose, sound flying up and out of her to paint the sky. This goes beyond the emotional impact of a typical beautiful vocal performance – there’s something more wild, uninhibited, even inquisitive in Sutherland’s notes and runs. It’s incredibly refreshing, almost childish, which considering the lyrical context, is perfect.
In the last verse Sutherland sings “Like a child in the cinema at a private premiere/My dreaming is director.” There’s something beautifully cyclical about this image. It’s as if Sutherland, in healing her relationship with motherhood, has freed herself to be a child once more. This feels deeply right – a truly satisfying ending for the song’s story. “You are so kind,” she sings. “You healed my mind.”