Neneh Cherry

Neneh Cherry Biography

While her energy and demeanor may not have changed since the days of Rip Rig + Panic, musically, Blank Project (2014) is a departure from anything Neneh Cherry has previously done, initially written as a means of working through personal tragedy. What stands out upon first listen is the album’s sparseness: loose drums and a few synthesizers are the only accompaniment to Neneh’s wildly poetic, sometimes-spoken, sometimes-screeching, soul-flooded and raw vocals. The space created by this minimal aesthetic leaves room for occasional pistes and flurries of rapid, yet throbbing and thunderous instrumentation. Featuring combined elements of beat poetry, avant-electronica and beautiful vocal melodies, it’s a record that uses simple ideas to create something entirely original. And despite the personal struggles Neneh was working through in writing this new material, the songs are far from introverted.

As many are aware, the stories from Neneh’s early years are astonishing. She spent her childhood living 50/50 between a loft in New York and in the South of Sweden with her mother and stepfather, the legendary jazz musician Don Cherry. She's been lifted onto Miles Davis’ lap, Allen Ginsberg regularly passed through their home in an evening and as she got older, she could pop in on Arthur Russell, Talking Heads and The Modern Lovers who all lived in the same loft complex in Long Island City, New York.

At 14, she started taking trips to Harlem with Ari Up of the Slits at a time when few would venture so far uptown. Soon after, she left home and moved to London, and spent the next 20 years inside the crucial developments in British subculture. As post-punk became the site of 80s Britain’s artistic and political resistance, she helped form the anarchic multi-ethnic, multi-genre Rip, Rig + Panic, and she was one of the first to bring hip-hop culture to a British audience with “Buffalo Stance” and Raw Like Sushi. Although at points her career had brushes with the mainstream, Neneh remained staunchly counter-culture.

Through post-punk’s adherence to mixed-race line-ups and anti-government stance, to UK rap’s refusal of the conventions of pop, trip-hop’s connection with the politicized elements of rave culture and, through 1996’s Man, where Neneh introduced elements of Senegalese language to mainstream audiences for the first time via the mammoth “7 Seconds” single featuring Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour, and now, with Blank Project, Neneh continues to arrive at moments in musical history when there is an opportunity to subvert ideas of popular culture. She is subverting once again, only this time, although this record is musically bold, Neneh sees the stasis she’s challenging isn’t musical or societal, but her own.

Neneh Cherry Bio from Discogs

Born 10 March 1964, Stockholm, Sweden. Step-daughter of jazz trumpeter Don Cherry. Cherry joined English post-punk band Rip Rig & Panic in 1981 as a vocalist, later performing with several ex-members of that band as Float Up CP. In the mid-80s she sang backing vocals for the Slits and The The ("Slow Train To Dawn", 1987). In 1988, Cherry recorded the international hit single "Buffalo Stance" Her debut Raw Like Sushi"s eclectic blend of hip-hop rhythms and pop melodies earned Cherry excellent reviews and sizeable sales figures. In 1990, Cherry contributed to the AIDS-charity collection, Red Hot And Blue, singing Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin", but was quiet again until the release of Homebrew in 1992. Cherry reasserted herself as a commercial force in 1994 with the international hit single "Seven Seconds", which saw her collaborating with Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour. After another lengthy recording hiatus she released the album Man in 1996 which featured her last big hit single Woman. Neneh is the half-sister of singer Eagle-Eye Cherry (same mother and Don Cherry was her stepfather) and Swedish pop star Titiyo (same father).

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