Birth name – Neneh Mariann Karlsson
Born – 10 March 1964 (age 49)
Genres – Hip hop, trip hop, alternative hip hop, pop
Occupations – Singer-songwriter, rapper, DJ
Years active – 1987—present
Labels – Virgin, Tent Music
Neneh Mariann Cherry (born Neneh Mariann Karlsson; 10 March 1964) is a Swedish singer-songwriter, rapper, and occasional DJ and broadcaster. Blending hip hop with other influences, Cherry experienced mainstream success with several of her recordings.
Early life and family
Cherry was born in Stockholm to a Sierra Leonean father, drummer Amahdu Jah, and a Swedish mother, painter and textile artist Monica Karlsson, later known as Moki Cherry. Her stepfather Don Cherry, an American jazz musician, helped raise her since birth and she took his surname. Through her father, she is the half-sister of singer Titiyo and record producer Cherno Jah, and through her mother, she is the half-sister of musician Eagle-Eye Cherry. She has a stepsister, violinist Jan Cherry, and a stepbrother, jazz musician David Ornette Cherry.
During the first years of her life, Cherry lived in a hippie commune just outside the small town of Hässleholm. The family later moved to Pudsey, England, and in the early 1970s, they lived in an apartment on East Ninth Street in New York. At the age of 14, Cherry dropped out of school and moved to London.
In London, Cherry joined the punk rock band The Cherries. She moved through several bands, including New Age Steppers, Rip Rig + Panic, and Float Up CP. She also DJ’d, playing early rap music on the reggae pirate Dread Broadcasting Corporation.
Raw Like Sushi
She began a solo career with “Stop the War”, a protest song about the Falkland Islands. She also worked with Jonny Dollar, The The and musician Cameron McVey (a.k.a. Booga Bear), who co-wrote most of her debut album Raw Like Sushi, and whom she would eventually marry. 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” was an international blockbuster. “Buffalo Stance” eventually peaked at number 3 in the UK Singles Chart, and the US Billboard Hot 100, 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” (produced by Morris Temple of The Guards fame), 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. 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’s second album was Homebrew, but it was not as commercially successful as its predecessor. 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 on college radio the “Trout” duet with Michael Stipe was popular. Homebrew included the work of Geoff Barrow (on “Somedays”), who would later become part of Portishead.
Cherry performing in Vienna in 1996
Her most recent solo album, 1996’s Man- produced by McVey and Jonny Dollar -was led by the track “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 seventeen 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.
The Cherry Thing
In March 2011 she joined the experimental jazz group The Thing, who had derived their name from a track by her stepfather, Don Cherry. Their album The Cherry Thing was released in June 2012. During a June 1, 2012 interview with Kirsty Lang, broadcast as part of the BBC’s Front Row Daily podcast, Cherry discussed this jazz-inspired album, saying that The Thing were fans of her stepfather (jazz artist) Don Cherry’s work. One of the songs from this album – “Golden Heart” – was written by Don Cherry himself. Cherry went on to say that the album, although primarily a jazz album, is also inspired by modern music (for example the work of rapper MF Doom, as well as The Stooges) stating that “it needed to be relevant. I try to ignore all the borders of music, as much as I can”. She also discussed the “tacky over-sexualisation” of women in modern-day music, hoping for a reaction to “pole-dance pop”.
In 2006, Cherry announced the formation of a new band, cirKus. In addition to Cherry, cirKus members are Cameron McVey, Lolita Moon (Neneh and Cameron’s daughter Tyson) plus Karmil. CirKus has 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.
Although Cherry has only released a handful of albums, she has frequently collaborated with other artists. She performed a duet with Matt Johnson of The The on the track Slow Train To Dawn from The The’s 1986 album Infected. Slow Train To Dawn reached #64 in the UK and received sporadic airplay on US alternative radio stations. She rapped on the B-side of the Morgan/McVey single “Looking Good Diving With The Wild Bunch” (1987). Cherry worked with Jon Marsh of The Beloved on a new version of their single “You’ve Got Me Thinking”. Although the track was never officially released, two demo versions were available from The Beloved’s website. Cherry also contributed guest vocals on Pulp’s UK #1 album This Is Hardcore, singing on the track “Seductive Barry”. In 1990, Cherry contributed “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Blue produced by the Red Hot Organization. In 1995 she collaborated with Cher, Chrissie Hynde, and Eric Clapton in a cover of the Judds song “Love Can Build a Bridge” which was released and reached #1 in the UK charts for a week.
Cherry collaborated with Edward Kowalczyk the lead singer of the band Live. They contributed a duet entitled “Walk into this Room” written by Kowalczyk for the soundtrack to the movie Playing by Heart (1998). In 1999 she covered the ESG song “Moody” on Christian Falk’s debut Quel Bordel. Also in 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. Cherry appeared on Peter Gabriel’s 11th album OVO in 2000.
In addition she contributed vocals alongside Speech and Ulali on 1 Giant Leap’s 2003 song “Braided Hair”. In the 2005 release of Gorillaz’s Demon Days, she contributed vocals to the tracks “Kids With Guns”. She performed the song in the Demon Days Live concerts in 2006. The same year she appeared with the Swedish rapper Petter on his album P, singing in Swedish. She contributed vocals to the Groove Armada tracks, “The Groove Is On” and “Think Twice”, featured on the band’s album Love Box. In 2006 she was featured in the song “Yours to Keep”, by the Stockholm outfit Teddybears on their album Soft Machine. In 2007 she again duetted with Youssou N’Dour on one track, “Wake Up Africa”, released on his 2007 album Rokku Mi Rokka.
In 2006 she was featured in the song “High Drama”, by the German DJ Timo Maas on his album Pictures.
In 2008 she appeared on Swedish producer Kleerup’s self-titled album, contributing vocals to the track “Forever”.
In 2013 Cherry collaborated with London duo RocketNumberNine to record an album ‘MeYouWeYou’. She also joined them to perform the entire album live at the Manchester International Festival in July 2013.
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 early 2004, Cherry presented Neneh Cherry’s World of Music, a six-part series broadcast on BBC Radio 2.
In the late 1980s, Cherry helped to bankroll the band Massive Attack.
In April 2007, Cherry presented a six-part cookery show Neneh and Andi – Dish it Up with her friend Andrea Oliver for BBC Two. The pair would later appear on Gordon Ramsay’s The F-Word as part of the amateur brigade.
Cherry married The Bank drummer Bruce Smith in 1983 and their daughter Naima was also born that year. They divorced in 1984. Their daughter Naima is a London-based photographer, who in 2004 had son Louis Clyde Flynn Love. In 1987 Cherry met producer Cameron 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. Together they have daughters Tyson, born in 1989, and Mabel, born in 1996. Their relationship is also work-related, as McVey produced and co-wrote Raw Like Sushi; together they have supported a variety of British acts; and they are in the group cirKus together. Her stepson Marlon Roudette fronts the British duo Mattafix.
The Cherry-McVeys have lived throughout Europe. In 1993 they moved to Spain. In 1992, they briefly attempted to live in New York. 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 Sweden; living in the same schoolhouse turned home (featured in Homebrew album artwork) that Cherry studied in as a child. For many years they split their time between the UK and Sweden, but made Sweden their permanent base around 2003. They have a country house near Birmingham and Wolverhampton, apartments in London and Stockholm plus the old schoolhouse in Skåne County.
Main article: Neneh Cherry discography
Cherry performing in 2012
Raw Like Sushi (1989)
With The Thing
The Cherry Thing (2012)
Red Everything Movement