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A born pioneer, Neneh fits naturally into the forefront of musical and social change, whether it’s post-punk, rap, or giving the music world a new image of female pop stars; famously, she promoted her breakthrough solo album Raw Like Sushi, by getting down on British TV wearing a tight outfit — and seven months pregnant. Breakthroughs mark Cherry’s career, full of individual choices like collaborating with Senegal’s Youssou N’Dour on 7 Seconds, voted Song of the Century by the French public at the Millennium, which reached #1 in 48 countries. Her next release, the torch song, Woman, was sung in English and Spanish and consolidated Neneh’s respect as a conscious global role model for women and those that appreciate them.
Sticking to your artistic guns is the code with which Neneh was raised. Her adaptive approach was moulded growing up on the road with her Swedish artist mother, Moki, and her step-father, world/free jazz trumpet great Don Cherry. Summers were spent in the Swedish forests; with Don’s folks in Watts, L.A: or with the family of her percussionist father, Amadu Jah, in Sierra Leone. Those formative influences and experiences prepared Neneh for a lifetime of creating with talents as different as they are authentic.
Starting out by joining key punk girl band, The Slits, Neneh next became the voice of renegade free-blowing post-punk bohoes, Rip, Rig and Panic and their successor, Float Up, C.P. After attracting further attention with her vocals on The The’s classic, Slow Train To Dawn, Neneh became part of the Buffalos, the creative collective assembled by the late visionary visualizer Ray Petri, whose style so shaped the 1980s.
Now a solo artist, Cherry hit big straight away with the worldwide hit singles Buffalo Stance, Manchild and Inna City Mamma from her debut album Raw Like Sushi. More followed, like Buddy X from the Homebrew & Man albums, which also featured Woman and 7 Seconds.
While making each of her three solo albums matter, Neneh and her husband and partner Cameron McVey also set up their own production companies, the Cherry Bear Organization & Daddy Crusty. They helped spread Bristol’s underground music scene internationally by nurturing the careers of Portishead with their Dummy album and Massive Attack’s Blue Lines. Neneh also collaborated with hip-hoppers Biggie Smalls, The Jungle Brothers and Gang Starr.
After the Man album, Neneh decided to focus attention on her family, and stayed home with her three daughters, shunning the limelight for a few years nit really surfacing publicly again until she was asked to guest in Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz collective & her own family collective cirKus.
Throughout, Neneh has maintained her passion for social issues. She has made music against AIDS with the Red Hot Organization and is tirelessly supportive of the United Nations efforts to eradicate African AIDS and malaria and for Debt Eradication programmes in the developing world.