SNF Nostos



Neneh Cherry

Contemporary Music

Tuesday June 25, 22.00, Great Lawn

Neneh Cherry

She was not quite 16 years old when she decided to move to London during the punk revolution. She experienced firsthand the seismic changes taking place in pop culture in that era and would go on to become one of the dominant forces shaping the British pop scene during the 1990s. Since then, Neneh Cherry has never stopped protesting and struggling, and she has become a pop culture icon. Each song is a voice of protest, however lyrical or minimalist its form. At the Summer Nostos Festival she’ll be presenting, among other things, Broken Politics, her fifth album.

One might say Cherry’s career in music was predetermined. Born in Stockholm, her Swedish mother was a visual artist and her father, who came from Sierra Leone (where her grandfather was a tribal chief), was a musician. Her mother’s second husband, jazz musician Don Cherry, was essentially the one who raised her and shaped her musical education. In her early adolescence, her family, always on the road, moved to New York after an episode of racist verbal violence in Stockholm. Soon after, Cherry dropped out of school and moved to London. It was the heyday of punk rock, and Cherry felt that she had found the people she could really coexist with -artistically, but in other ways too. That’s where she lives today, in a quiet part of Notting Hill. Before her decision to live in London, she had visited Sierra Leone, her father's homeland. About that journey, she says: “I don't want to say that it changed my life, but it put my life on the path.”

Even though Neneh Cherry is a defining influence in music with a great career, she has released only five albums. Her latest, Broken Politics, was written with her husband Cameron McVey (who has worked with Massive Attack and Portishead, among others). Broken Politics essentially unites the various threads and the creative imprints of all of her previous albums. In terms of sound, Cherry believes it sets her voice on a new path. It is her most overtly political album, as evidenced by its title, and expresses her concerns regarding Trump, Brexit, and the global storm of political and social developments sweeping through contemporary societies. Of course, the crisis in Britain permeates her concerns, for example, Kong refers to the refugee crisis and Britain’s colonial heritage. Shot Gun Shack talks about gun possession, violence, and war.

“I like writing from a personal perspective, and the time we live in is so much about finding your own voice,” she says about Broken Politics, which has won rave reviews. “People have been left feeling misheard, misunderstood, and disillusioned. What can I do? Maybe politics starts in your bedroom, or your house -a form of activism, and a responsibility. The album is about all of those things: feeling broken, disappointed, and sad, but having perseverance. It’s a fight against the extinction of free thought and spirit." In the words of i-D magazine: “We owe a lot to the inimitable Neneh Cherry.”