Before all these current cool, trendy it-girls ruled the world…there was Neneh Cherry.
I first came to know of Miss Neneh growing up in the 90’s. My brother and sister who were 7 and 8 years older than me were always putting me on to what was hot. Disney Movies and Kids Songs didn’t stand a chance in my Trinidadian household. My first introduction to movies was “Pretty Woman” and “Alien”. For music, it was everything from Depeche Mode to Black Sheep. Neneh first caught my eye while watching non-stop MTV (back when MTV played music videos). I remember thinking she seemed a bit “strange”. That was the only way my American self could explain that she seemed foreign. She was also a stunner…tall, slender, gorgeous – but above that…she was TOUGH. I grew up in the hood, so even the prettiest girls had to be hard to survive. Seeing Neneh evoke that energy felt natural to me…and in a male dominated hip-hop scene…she did more than hold her own.
The cover of Neneh Cherry’s 1989 debut album, “Raw Like Sushi”. My sister had this poster on on the wall above the bed we shared. I would stare at it all the time, imagining myself as this super hero of woman that seemed larger than life.
Looking back, after living on this earth for quite a bit of time, you start to see the impact that certain older artists have on current or newer ones. And most of the female artists I love are clearly inspired by Miss Cherry. On that list, you can find Vashtie Kola also. I can’t even begin to tell you all the ways that she has consciously and unconsciously inspired me. I mean, just look at the hair and style!
Oh and in 2012, I was featured in a DKNY x Opening Ceremony Campaign featuring Cara Delevigne. The concept was “Buffalo Style” and I was referenced to be styled like Neneh Cherry! Neneh was one of the faces of the “Buffalo Style” (hence her song “Buffalo Stance”) movement as ushered by Ray Petri. Read about it HERE, because everyone is referencing it today in fashion!
5 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT NENEH CHERRY!
1) Neneh Cherry was born Neneh Mariann Karlsson on March 10th 1964 in Sweden. Her parents are 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 who was studying Engineering at the university in Stockholm. Cherry’s mother married the influential American jazz musician Don Cherry, who helped raise Cherry since birth. Cherry took her stepfather’s surname. Her half-brother is musician Eagle Eye Cherry.
Neneh and her mother “Moki”
2) Cherry moved to the UK when she was 14, at the end of the Punk era, and she remembers finding “her people” there. Cherry had met (who would become punk rock legends) Tessa Pollitt, Viv Albertine and Ari Up from The Slits earlier as her stepdad, Don Cherry, was touring with them and brought the teenage Neneh along. Shortly after she played in Punk Rock Bands and Deejayed.
3) Neneh’s first major hit was with the 1988 song, “Buffalo Stance”, off her debut album “Raw Like Sushi”. It was co-written mostly by Jonny Dollar, The The and Cameron McVey (a.k.a. Booga Bear), whom she would eventually marry. The single peaked at number 3 in the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 1 on the US Dance chart.
4) 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.
5) Neneh and Cameron have another daughter, Mabel, who also makes music and is a fan of me and my brand Violette! My friends Grace Ladoja works with this super talented cutie and sent me a portrait of her wearing my #PumaxVashtie Faux Fur Bomber!
I hope she knows how much I (and the world) love her mama – how much her powerful madre has inspired me in so much of what I do!