Ruby Amanfu, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016
If you were among those who ate up the fierce blues-rock track "Don't Hurt Yourself" from Beyoncé's Lemonade, then you know Ruby Amanfu's voice. Jack White might be the featured guest artist, but it's his frequent collaborator Amanfu, who was born in Ghana and now makes her home in Nashville, who's responsible for the layers of wordless background vocals that help give the song its roiling fervor.
You can hear a lot of that intensity in Amanfu's Newport Folk set — like in the new song "I Am The Fire," one of a couple she wrote with fellow Newport Folk performer Ryan Adams, and in her righteous 2013 single "Bluff." Throughout her set, she combined vulnerability with swagger in a way that called to mind many of the pioneering women of R&B and rock 'n' roll. While she performed a few of her own songs, Amanfu's set also featured several carefully chosen covers. Her sultry, full-voiced rendition of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You," enhanced by an organ solo from Deer Tick's Robbie Crowell, was a crowd favorite.
Audio: Joshua Rogosin, Suraya Mohamed, Loretta Rae; Photography: Adam Kissick
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