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Neneh Cherry

Neneh Cherry
Neneh Cherry at Tauron Nowa Muzyka in 2014 in Katowice, Poland
Neneh Cherry at Tauron Nowa Muzyka 2014 in Katowice, Poland
Background information
Birth name Neneh Mariann Karlsson
Born (1964-03-10) 10 March 1964
Stockholm, Sweden
Genres Hip hop, electronica, trip hop, alternative hip hop, pop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Years active 1981—present
Labels Virgin
Tent Music
Website .comnenehcherry

Neneh Mariann Karlsson (born 10 March 1964), better known as Neneh Cherry, is a Swedish-born singer-songwriter, rapper, and occasional DJ and broadcaster.[1][2]


  • Early life and family 1
  • Career 2
    • Early work 2.1
    • Albums 2.2
      • Raw Like Sushi 2.2.1
      • Homebrew 2.2.2
      • Man 2.2.3
      • Blank Project 2.2.4
      • Upcoming work 2.2.5
    • Bands/Collaborations 2.3
      • CirKus 2.3.1
      • The Cherry Thing 2.3.2
    • Other music projects 2.4
      • RocketNumberNine 2.4.1
    • Other work 2.5
    • Musical style 2.6
  • Discography 3
    • Solo Records 3.1
    • Collaborations 3.2
    • Other contributions 3.3
  • Personal life 4
    • Style 4.1
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life and family

Cherry was born as Neneh Karlsson in Stockholm, the daughter of Monica "Moki" Karlsson, a Swedish painter and textile artist, and the musician Ahmadu Jah. Jah was born in Sierra Leone, the son of a chief. He went to Stockholm to study engineering at university.[3]

Cherry's mother married the influential American jazz musician Don Cherry, who helped raise Cherry since birth. Cherry took her stepfather's surname.[1]

Cherry has a half-sister, singer Titiyo, and half-brother, record producer Cherno Jah, from her father Ahmadu Jah's marriage to Maylen Jah (née Bergström). Cherry also has a half-brother, musician Eagle-Eye Cherry, a stepsister, violinist Jan Cherry, and a stepbrother, jazz musician David Ornette Cherry from stepfather Don Cherry's side.

Cherry's parents, Moki and Don Cherry, bought and converted an old schoolhouse in the countryside outside the small town of Hässleholm in Sweden in 1970.[4] In the early 1970s, the family moved to the United States, when Don Cherry taught at Dartmouth College.[5] Cherry dropped out of school at 14 and moved to London.[6]


Cherry said she found her voice singing along with Poly Styrene from X-Ray Spex. She grew up in a musical family; she remembers singing with her father at the piano.[7]

Early work

Cherry moved to England when she was 14, at the end of the Punk era, and she remembers finding "her people" there. Cherry had met Tessa Pollitt, Viv Albertine and Ari Up from The Slits earlier as her stepdad, Don Cherry, was touring with them and brought the 15-year-old Neneh along.[8] She and Ari lived in a squat in Battersea. She felt really at home, after ending up there because The Slits invited her stepfather, Don Cherry, to go on tour with them with Prince Hammer and Creation Rebel.[4]

In London, Cherry joined the punk rock band The Cherries. She moved through several bands, including The Slits, New Age Steppers, Rip Rig + Panic, and Float Up CP.[9] She also deejayed, playing early rap music on the reggae pirate Dread Broadcasting Corporation.[10]


Raw Like Sushi

She began a solo career with "Stop the War", a protest song about the Falkland Islands. She worked with Jonny Dollar, The The and Cameron McVey (a.k.a. Booga Bear), who co-wrote most of her 1989 debut album Raw Like Sushi, and whom she would eventually marry.[1] She was intimately involved in the Bristol Urban Culture scene, working as an arranger on Massive Attack's Blue Lines album, through which she met Dollar. Both Robert Del Naja and Andrew Vowles of Massive Attack contributed to Raw Like Sushi.

The single "Buffalo Stance" eventually peaked at number 3 in the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100,[1] and number 1 on the US Dance chart. More singles released between 1988 and 1990 included "Manchild," "Kisses on the Wind," "Heart," and "Inna City Mama." She also found success with "I've Got You Under My Skin", a reworking of the Cole Porter song, which appeared on the Red Hot + Blue AIDS fundraising album. The single reached number 25 in the UK.[1] Cherry was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1990 in the Best New Artist Category; she lost out to Milli Vanilli, who later had their Grammy revoked when it was discovered that they had not performed on their recording. She won a Brit Award in 1990 for Raw Like Sushi.

Cherry caused a press furore when she performed "Buffalo Stance" on Top of the Pops while pregnant (with her second child, Tyson).[9]


Cherry's second album was 1992's Homebrew. Homebrew was not as commercially successful as its predecessor.[1] The album had some success on the dance charts with songs "Buddy X" and "Trout." "Buddy X" was a bigger hit years later in a remix by Dreem Teem and the "Trout" duet with Michael Stipe was popular on college radio. Homebrew included the work of Geoff Barrow (on "Somedays"), who would later become part of Portishead.

The single, "Buddy X," was remixed by Biggie Smalls, and is considered to be "one of the great Biggie rarities in the world."[11] Cherry said she and McVey were there for the session, that they picked up Biggie to go to the studio. The song was completed in one take.[11] A video played on MTV for the original album track features a row of women versus a row of men: at the end Cherry throws her panties at one of the guys.[11]


Cherry performing in Vienna in 1996

1996's Man is a solo record produced by McVey, Jonny Dollar and Christian Falk. The lead track is "Woman", her take on James Brown's 1966 track "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." It featured the worldwide hit single, "7 Seconds", featuring Youssou N'Dour; and "Trouble Man" a cover of a Marvin Gaye track. "7 Seconds" remained at number 1 in France for a record 17 weeks in 1994. Another track, "Together Now", featured Tricky.

Cherry received her second Grammy nomination in 1994 for "7 Seconds". In the MTV Europe Music Awards in 1994, "7 Seconds" won the Best Song title.

Neneh Chérie Remixes, a remix album of Man songs, was released in 1997.

Blank Project

Blank Project was written by Cherry and her husband McVey.[3] Paul Simm co-wrote six tracks on the record.[12] The record was deeply influenced by the death of her mother.[13]

To promote the album, she announced a European tour for February and March 2014.[14] In January 2015, Cherry performed as a solo artist in New York City.[15][16] Cherry is very connected to New York, as she has visited or lived there off and on since 1966.[17]

Upcoming work

Cherry said she plans to release a new EP before summer 2015, and an LP soon after.[15]


The Cherry Bear Collective, Cherry's former company with McVey, is now called Nomad Productions and is based in west London.[3]


In 2006, Cherry announced the formation of a new band, cirKus. In addition to Cherry, cirKus members were Cameron McVey, Lolita Moon (Neneh and Cameron's daughter Tyson) plus Karmil. CirKus toured Europe, with a single North American performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival in July 2006 plus a few dates in Brazil in 2008. The band's first album, Laylow, was released in France in 2006. A remixed/recorded version was released in 2007. A second CirKus album, Medicine, was released in France in March 2009.

The Cherry Thing

In March 2011, Cherry collaborated with the experimental jazz group The Thing, to release the record The Cherry Thing.[18] The Thing is a Norwegian/Swedish jazz trio, consisting of Mats Gustafsson (saxophones), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (double bass), and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums). The Thing took their name from the third track on stepfather Don Cherry's album, Where Is Brooklyn?.[4][9] The album The Cherry Thing was released in June 2012 and was recorded at Harder Sound Studios in London, England and Atlantis Studios in Stockholm, Sweden.[19]

During a 1 June 2012 interview with Kirsty Lang, broadcast as part of the BBC Radio 4's Front Row daily podcast, Cherry discussed the jazz-inspired album, saying that The Thing were inspired by Cherry's stepfather's work, but that the band makes this inspiration their own. "I think that we're taking it on, to another place. I think that's really important," Cherry said. One of the songs from the album, "Golden Heart," was written by Don Cherry; Christer Bothén, a musician who played with Don Cherry, was invited to play on the album, and brought the song to their attention.

The album includes tracks originally performed by an electic mix of artists, including hip-hop artist MF Doom, Martina Topley-Bird[9] Suicide, and The Stooges'.[4] Most of the tracks were recorded together live.[4]

Other music projects

Although Cherry has only released a handful of albums, she has frequently collaborated with other artists.[20]


In 2013, Cherry collaborated with London duo RocketNumberNine (named after a Sun Ra track), aka the Page Brothers, Ben and Tom Page, to record an album MeYouWeYou. She also joined them to perform the entire album live at the Manchester International Festival in July 2013.[21] The record is an album of 10 tracks that Cherry wrote with McVeigh that they brought to RocketNumberNine with only vocals, and then they did their musical interpretation to all the tracks. They recorded the album live in Woodstock, New York with Vortex. The ten tracks were recorded in 5 days. Cherry calls it fearless and hardcore.[22]

Other work

  • In the early 1980s, Cherry was a deejay on DBC radio, Dread Broadcasting Corporation, a pirate radio station.[11]
  • Cherry appeared in a non-singing capacity in Big Audio Dynamite's 1986 video for "C'mon Every Beatbox," dancing onstage with others during the band's performance
  • In the late 1980s, Cherry helped to bankroll the band Massive Attack.[12]
  • In early 2004, Cherry presented Neneh Cherry's World of Music, a six-part series broadcast on BBC Radio 2.
  • In April 2007, Cherry presented a six-part cookery show Neneh and Andi – Dish it Up with her friend Andrea Oliver for BBC Two.
  • Neneh and Andi appeared on Gordon Ramsay's The F-Word as part of the amateur brigade.
  • In November 2013, Cherry contributied to the art project/audio book Ällp written by Lars Yngve. Singer [24]

Musical style

Cherry said she has never really thought of herself as a rapper. She sees herself as a "singer that does a bit of rapping."[7]

Breaking into the U.S. music industry was not a positive experience for Cherry. She said that while “Buffalo Stance” gave her a mainstream crossover moment in the U.S. she found the American music industry stiflingly attached to labels and genre identities.[25]


Cherry performing in 2012

Solo Records


With CirKus
  • Laylow (2006)
  • Medicine (2009)
With The Thing
  • The Cherry Thing (2012)

Other contributions

  • 1982: "My Love" by New Age Steppers on album Action Battlefield - vocals – Bim Sherman, Neneh Cherry
  • 1982: "Storm The Reality Asylum" by Rip Rig + Panic on album I Am Cold - lead vocals
  • 1982: "Stop The War" by Raw Sex, Pure Energy on album Raw Sex, Pure Energy - featured vocals
  • 1984: "Foot on the Rock" by God Mother Country GMC on Vinyl Maxi Single (Vinyl 12) - vocals - Neneh Cherry, Nick Straker
  • 1986: "Slow Train To Dawn" by The The on album Infected - duet with Matt Johnson (#64 in the UK)
  • 1986: "Looking Good Diving With The Wild Bunch" by Morgan/McVey - rapped on the B-side
  • 1980s: "You've Got Me Thinking" by Jon Marsh of The Beloved (new version) - vocals. Although the track was never officially released, two demo versions were available from The Beloved's website
  • 1994: "Turn My Back" by Hiroshi Fujiwara Featuring Neneh Cherry (12" single) - lead
  • 1995: "1,2,3,4,5" by Trout's Charity album Help - lead vocals
  • 1997: "Addicted To Love" by Robert Palmer movie soundtrack Addicted to Love - vocals (track appears in closing credits of film)
  • 1998: "Bali ha' i" by Moodswings's Soundtrack album Welcome to Woop Woop - guest vocals
  • 1998: "Sweet Child of Mine" by Akasha's UK album Cinématique - guest vocals
  • 1998: "Landscape of a pissing multitude" by John Tonks's album De Granada a la Luna - guest vocals
  • 1998: "Seductive Barry" by Pulp's UK #1 album This Is Hardcore - guest vocals
  • 1990: "Red Hot Organization
  • 1995: "Love Can Build a Bridge" by the Judds - vocals with Cher, Chrissie Hynde, and Eric Clapton (#1 in the UK charts for a week)
  • 1998: "Walk into this Room" by Edward Kowalczyk, the lead singer of the band Live for the soundtrack to the movie Playing by Heart - vocals
  • 1999: "Moody" by ESG on Christian Falk's debut Quel Bordel
  • 1999: "Twisted Mess," a collaboration with Craig Armstrong, was recorded for the soundtrack of the film Best Laid Plans. It was also included on the soundtrack to The Dancer (2000) and released as a promotional single on France's Delabel label
  • 2000: Peter Gabriel's album OVO - vocals
  • 2002: "The Groove Is On" and "Think Twice" by Groove Armada on their album Love Box - vocals
  • 2003: "Braided Hair" by 1 Giant Leap - vocals, with Speech and Ulali
  • 2004: Renaissance presents Pacha Ibiza (mixed by Neneh Cherry, Andy B, Kiko Navarro & Wally Lopez) - on Stomp/EQ[26]
  • 2004: "Eyes on the prize" by Wayne Wonder on Olympic games 2004's soundtrack - vocals
  • 2005: "Kids With Guns" by Gorillaz on Demon Days - vocals
  • 2005: "El Mañana" by Gorillaz on Demon Days - writer
  • 2006: Performed the song in the Demon Days Live concerts
  • 2006: P by Swedish rapper Petter - vocals (singing in Swedish)
  • 2006: "Yours to Keep" by the Stockholm outfit Teddybears on their album Soft Machine - vocals
  • 2006: "Million Miles," by Agoria on album The Green Armchair - vocals
  • 2006: "High Drama," by the German DJ Timo Maas on album Pictures - vocals
  • 2007: "Wake Up Africa" with Youssou N'Dour on his album Rokku Mi Rokka - duet
  • 2008: "Forever" by Swedish producer Kleerup on his self-titled album - vocals
  • 2010: "Ganapati" by producer Trilok Gurtu on Track "Ganapati" - vocals
  • 2011: "Ganesh" by producer Bengt Berger on album "See You in a Minute" - vocals
  • 2011: "Dina kana gina" by producer Bengt Berger on album "See You in a Minute" - vocals
  • 2013: "Real Woman" by producer House of Wallenberg on his self-titled album - vocals - Neneh Cherry, Ari Up

Personal life

In 1983, Cherry married The Bank drummer Bruce Smith[27] and had daughter, Naima.[26][28] They divorced in 1984. Cherry's daughter, Naima, is a London-based photographer, who had son Louis Clyde Flynn Love (who goes by Flynn).[29] in 2004.[26]

In 1987, Cherry met producer Cameron "Booga Bear" McVey at Heathrow Airport. Cherry and McVey were en route to Japan as fashion models as part of London designer Ray Petri's Buffalo Posse. Cherry proposed, and the two married in 1990.[30] Cherry and McVey had two daughters: Tyson, born in 1989, and Mabel, born in 1996.[26] Cherry and McVey have a collaborative work relationship: McVey produced and co-wrote Raw Like Sushi. Together they have supported a variety of British acts and they were in the group cirKus together. Via McVey's prior relationship with Vonnie Roudette, Cherry has a stepson, Marlon Roudette, who fronts the British duo Mattafix.

The Cherry-McVeys have lived throughout Europe. In 1993, they moved near Malaga, Spain and lived there until 1999. In 1995, they briefly lived in New York City. They bought a home in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, New York. Soon after moving in, the couple was held up at gunpoint and robbed by a teenage bandit. The entire family packed up again and headed back to London's Primrose Hill.

They next returned to Cherry's childhood home in Hässleholm, Sweden, living in the same schoolhouse turned home (featured in Homebrew album artwork) that Cherry was raised as a child.

The family has a country house near Birmingham and Wolverhampton, apartments in London and Stockholm, plus the family home in the old schoolhouse in Skåne County that she and her brother inherited when her mother died in 2009.[5] As of 2014, Cherry says she commutes between London and Stockholm.[5]


Since the late 1980s, Cherry has frequently worked with the stylist and jewelry designer Judy Blame.[31]

On her street style, Cherry cites LL Cool J as an influence, as well as the photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Judy Blame, and designer Ray Petri.[32][33]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography. Mojo Books. p. 176.  
  2. ^ Greenstreet, Rosanna (14 June 2014). "Q&A: Neneh Cherry".  
  3. ^ a b c Mossman, Kate (22 February 2014). "'"Neneh Cherry, interview: 'People ask me where I've been for 18 years.  
  4. ^ a b c d e Lang, Kirsty (1 Jun 2012). "Neneh Cherry interviewed; the Transit of Venus in art" (radio podcast). Front Row.  
  5. ^ a b c Gehr, Richard (24 February 2014). "'"Neneh Cherry Talks Her Weird Punk-Pop-Jazz Trajectory, and the New 'Blank Project.  
  6. ^ Jones, Terry; 29 October 2013 (2000). "200 for 2000" (PDF).  
  7. ^ a b Hobbs, Mary Anne. "Neneh Cherry: How I Found My Voice".  
  8. ^ Whitfield, Gregory Mario (November 2003). "Gregory Mario Whitfield interviews Tessa Pollitt of The Slits". 3 A.M. Magazine. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d Rogers, Jude (22 May 2012). "'"Neneh Cherry: 'Jazz can be the way you make love. The Guardian. 
  10. ^ Vague, Tom (2006). "Counter Culture Portobello Psychogeographical History".  
  11. ^ a b c d Kenner, Rob (18 February 2014). "Neneh Cherry Talks "Blank Project," "Buffalo Stance," and Biggie".  
  12. ^ a b Bui, Paul (24 February 2014). "life is just a bowl of neneh cherry's".  
  13. ^ McNulty, Bernadette (24 February 2014). "Neneh Cherry: welcome return for a unique talent".  
  14. ^ "New album Blank Project out 24th February 2014/25th February in the US on Smalltown".  
  15. ^ a b Coscarelli, Joe (8 January 2015). "Neneh Cherry Will Get an Overdue New York Debut".  
  16. ^ Randall, Mac (9 January 2015). "Neneh Cherry Plays Her First-Ever New York Concert Friday".  
  17. ^ Spuhler, Robert (6 January 2015). "Neneh Cherry finally plays a New York City solo show".  
  18. ^ Doran, John (2 May 2012). "A Quietus Interview Keep Those Dreams Burning Forever: Neneh Cherry Interviewed".  
  19. ^ "Neneh Cherry & Thing, The (2) – The Cherry Thing".  
  20. ^ Gieben, Bram E. (11 February 2014). "Neneh Cherry – Blank Project (5 Stars)".  
  21. ^ "Neneh Cherry and RocketNumberNine".  
  22. ^ Radcliffe, Mark. "Neneh Cherry Talks To Radcliffe And Maconie". BBC Radio 6 Music. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  23. ^ Grahn, Sindra (20 December 2013). "Österlenmål at Stureplan".  
  24. ^ "Lars Yngve - Nils-Ude...". Trelleborg Municipality. 14 November 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  25. ^ Zoladz, Lindsay (10 January 2014). "Neneh Cherry".  
  26. ^ a b c d Eliezer, Christie (23 June 2004). "Neneh Cherry". Australian Beat Magazine. Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  27. ^ "Neneh M Karlsson - mentioned in the record of Smith and Neneh M Karlsson".  
  28. ^ Chapman, Anna (July 2003). "Interview with Neneh Cherry". Pacha Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  29. ^ Keens, Oliver (25 February 2014). "Five things you didn't know about Neneh Cherry".  
  30. ^ "Neneh M Karlsson - mentioned in the record of Mcvey and Neneh M Karlsson".  
  31. ^ Van Meter, William (30 January 2014). "Neneh Cherry's Back On Top".  
  32. ^ Iannacci, Elio (14 February 2014). "What I Wear: Neneh Cherry talks stances and street style".  
  33. ^ Cochrane, Lauren (11 November 2014). "Neneh Cherry’s street style hits: ‘I looked like the female Muhammad Ali’".  

External links

  • (official site)
  • @misscherrylala on Twitter
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