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Neneh Mariann Karlsson (born 10 March 1964), known as Neneh Cherry is a Swedish two-time Grammy Award-nominated and MTV Europe Music Award-winning singer-songwriter and rapper. Cherry is also an occasional DJ and broadcaster. Cherry blends hip hop with other influences, and experienced some moderate mainstream success with several of her recordings.

Personal life

Cherry was born Neneh Mariann Karlsson, to a Sierra Leoneanmarker father, drummer Amahdu Jah and a Swedishmarker painter/textile artist mother, Monica Karlsson, known as Moki Cherry. Her siblings include the singers Titiyo Jah and Eagle-Eye Cherry. Her step-father Don Cherry helped raise her since birth so Neneh took his surname.Cherry lived the first years of her life in the small English town Pudseymarker. Regarding her childhood, Cherry said:
My mother is Swedish and she's an artist. She's an amazing lady. When I was a baby and she was going to design school, she used to take me along in a basket!
Soon Moki met Don and the family accompanied him on his tours through Europe and North America. In the early 1970s the Cherry family nestled into a small apartment on East 9th Street in New York Citymarker. Moki still lives in New York, either in Garden City, New Yorkmarker or in a loft in Queens, New Yorkmarker just across the East River from East 60th Street. Moki has exhibitions in major museums and galleries in New York and Stockholmmarker.

Cherry married The Bank drummer Bruce Smith in 1983 and their daughter Naima was also born that year. They divorced in 1984. In 1987 she met producer Cameron McVey at Heathrow Airport. Cherry and Cameron 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 heavyweight British acts; and they are in the group cirKus together.

In 2004, Cherry became a grandmother when her 19-year-old daughter Naima had son Louis Clyde Flynn Love.

The Cherry-McVeys have lived throughout Europe. In 1993 they moved to Spain. In 1995, they briefly attempted to live in New Yorkmarker. 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 Hillmarker. They next returned to Cherry's childhood home in Tågarpmarker, Sweden; living in the same schoolhouse-turned-home (featured in Homebrew album artwork) that Cherry studied in as a child. Currently they split time between their country house near Birminghammarker and Wolverhamptonmarker and Londonmarker.

Cherry has stated in interviews she is bisexual.

Other family

Many members of her family are musicians or artists.


Early days in London

Cherry dropped out of school at 14 and moved to Londonmarker, where she joined the punk rock band "The Cherries". She was close friends/housemates with Ari Up and worked at Better Badges, which was a centre of punk culture. Cherry 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.

Cherry joined Rip Rig + Panic as a singer.

Raw Like Sushi

She began a solo career with "Stop the War", a protest song about the Falkland Islandsmarker. She also worked with 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 and helping out in various other ways in the scene. Famously, she gave birth while Shara Nelson was recording the vocals for the album in the same house . Robert Del Naja and Andrew Vowles of Massive Attack had in turn contributed to Raw Like Sushi.

Her cover was released as a single, and "Buffalo Stance" was an international blockbuster and she caused controversy when she performed the song, complete with gyrating choreography, on UK television show Top Of The Pops while 7–8 months' pregnant. "Buffalo Stance" eventually peaked at number 3 on the UK and US pop charts and number 1 on the American Dance charts, becoming one of 1988's biggest club anthems.

More singles released between 1988 and 1990 included the slower "Manchild," "Kisses on the Wind," "Heart," and "Inna City Mama." She also found success with "I've Got U Under My Skin," a dramatic reworking of the Cole Porter song, which appeared on the Red Hot + Blue AIDS fundraising album. The single reached number 25 on the UK pop charts.


Back in England in 1991, Neneh began work on her second album Homebrew.
I suppose the second album took a long time in pop terms, but that's the way it is with me, I need to have a life, lived at my own pace, in between the albums.
Led by the single "Money Love," it was not as commercially successful as its predecessor, but received great critical acclaim. The album had some success on the dance charts with songs "Buddy X" and "Trout." "Buddy X" was an even 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 a Bristolian lad called Geoff Barrow ('Somedays'), who would later turn up as the studio architect of the group Portishead.


Her most recent solo album, 1996's Man, 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 world wide hit single "7 Seconds" featuring Youssou N'Dour, and "Trouble Man" - a remake of the old Marvin Gaye classic. Man was recorded mainly in London and Spain. Neneh's stepfather Don Cherry had recently died in her Malaga, Spain home, so many of Man's songs have recurring themes of death, longing, and moving on. "Woman"'s video garnered Neneh many British music honors.

"Feel It" features the tale of a young man's growing up. "Kootchi" shows a return to Neneh's sexual side. "Carry Me" tells the tale of a young girl's death from the dying girl's perspective. "Golden Ring" is a power ballad sung in a flamenco, Spanish style which exhibits the influence that living in the flamenco scene has had on Neneh's dwelling of Spain. International hit "7 Seconds" is an anthem about racism. It remained at number 1 in France for a record 17 weeks in 1994. "Together Now" features Tricky.

Man is more atmospheric and leaning towards trip-hop and rock than Neneh's previous albums. Neneh Chérie Remixes, a remix album of Man songs, was released in 1997.

Next album

Neneh Cherry's next solo album, tentatively titled either Reborn or Family Therapy, has been a work in progress since 2003. She has plans to finish it after cirKus's 2008 CD release and tour ends. The release is expected mid-2009.


In 2006, Cherry announced the formation of a new band, cirKus. In addition to Cherry, cirKus members are:
  • Neneh's husband Burt Ford a.k.a. Booga Bear a.k.a. Cameron McVey
  • Lolita Moon (Neneh and Cameron's daughter Tyson, also Karmil's girlfriend)
  • Karmil a.k.a. Matt Kent a.k.a. Matt Karmil

CirKus has toured extensively in smaller venues in Europe, with a single North American performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival in July 2006 and a few dates in Brazil in 2008. The band's first album, Laylow, was released in France in 2006. A remixed/recorded version of the album, Laylower, was released in 2007. A second CirKus album, Medicine, was released in France in March 2009.

Other collaborations

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

  • Cherry rapped on the B-side of the Morgan/McVey single "Looking Good Diving With The Wild Bunch" in 1987 (CBS MORG T1). As stated above, McVey became Cherry's husband. "The Wild Bunch" was the name used by a collective DJ/sound system group that later became Massive Attack.
  • "7 Seconds", a collaboration with Youssou N'Dour, was a huge international hit in 1994, remaining on the charts for nearly half a year.
  • Cherry also contributed guest vocals on Pulp's UK #1 album This Is Hardcore, singing on the track "Seductive Barry".
  • 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 in 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.
  • 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.
  • In 2006 she collaborated with Swedish rapper Petter on his album P, singing in her native language 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 Stockholm electro-dub punks Teddybears on their album Soft Machine.
  • In 2006 she featured on the Agoria track "Million Miles".
  • In 2007 Youssou N'Dour and Neneh collaborated on one track, "Wake Up Africa", in 2007. The song was released on his 2007 album Rokku Mi Rokka.
  • In 2008 she appeared on Swedish producer Kleerup's self-titled album, contributing vocals to the track "Forever".

Other work

In the spring of 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 close friend Andrea Oliver for BBC2. The pair would later appear on Gordon Ramsay's The F-Word as part of the amateur brigade.

Awards and other recognition

  • Due to the impressive performance of "Buffalo Stance," 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.

  • Neneh won the Brit Award, The British Phonographic Award, in 1990 for Raw Like Sushi. Soul II Soul founder Jazzie B is quoted as saying: "Neneh smashed her Brit Award in half and gave Soul II Soul a piece of the trophy."

  • She received her second Grammy nomination in 1994 for the Youssou N'Dour duet "7 Seconds." Despite worldwide acclaim, the song failed to win the award.



Year Title Chart Positions Album
UK U.S. U.S. Dance AUS NZ GER NL SWImarker FR
1987 "Slow Train To Dawn" (with The The) 64 Infected
1989 "Buffalo Stance" 3 3 1 21 14 2 1 2 Raw Like Sushi
"Manchild" 5 51 4 2 4 41
"Kisses on the Wind" 20 8 19 52 8 23 9
"Heart" 73 91
"Inna City Mama" 31 15 17
1990 "I've Got You Under My Skin" 25 61 32 23 25 "Red Hot + Blue"
1992 "Money Love" 23 85 31 Homebrew
1993 "Buddy X" 35 43 4 23
1994 "7 Seconds" (with Youssou N'Dour) 3 98 3 7 3 2 1 1 Man
1995 "Love Can Build a Bridge" (with Cher, Chrissie Hynde & Eric Clapton) 1 62 41 21 Single Only
1996 "Woman" 9 17 35 52 22 12 14 Man
"Kootchi" 38
1997 "Feel It" 68
1999 "Buddy X '99" (with Dreem Teem) 15 Single Only
2000 "Long Way Around (with Eagle-Eye Cherry) 48 81 45 60 Living In the Present Future
2003 "Braided Hair" (1 Giant Leap featuring Neneh Cherry & Speech) 78 96 1 Giant leap
2006 "Kids With Guns" (with Gorillaz) 27 31 97 Demon Days


Year Title UK U.S. AUS GER SWEmarker FR
1989 Raw Like Sushi 2 40 30 10 3
1992 Homebrew 27 49 29
1996 Man 16 187 10 20 22 4
2006 Laylow (with CirKus) 95
2008 Medicine (with CirKus) 110
2009 Reborn (TBC)

See also


  1. Neneh Cherry Online - Bio
  2. Outre risque -The Neneh Cherry Homepage, a fansite
  3. Neneh Cherry Online - Interview
  4. Neneh Cherry Online - Discography 'Albums'
  5. Neneh is a Grandma!
  6. Radice, Sophie. "When hello really means bi for now", The Observer, 9 May 2004.
  7. PFF 200
  8. - Dutch charts portal
  9. Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community
  10. - Swedish Charts Portal

External links

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