Cherry said she found her voice singing along with Poly Styrene from X-Ray Spex. She grew up in a musical family: "Music was always there, it was like food in my house. But in my home I had never really found my own thing. I really identified with Poly, the voice. Culturally, she was mixed. I recognized her when I looked at her. One day I was singing along to their records, Germfree Adolescents or 'Oh Bondage Up Yours!', but I found my voice. And I'll never forget it happening." Her dad was singing at the piano, playing "Put Another Nickel in the Nickelodeon." Cherry remembers singing it with him in the voice she had found. "Oh look, I have a voice, it's been born. It was like an ejection, like a release button. It was like, here you go, do your own thing."
Cherry was born in Stockholm, the daughter of Monica "Moki" Cherry (née Karlsson), a Swedish painter and textile artist, and Ahmadu Jah, a Sierra Leonean drummer. Jah was born in Sierra Leone, the son of a chief. He left for Stockholm to study engineering at university.
Cherry's mother married Don Cherry, an American jazz musician, who helped raise her since birth. She took her stepfather's surname.
Cherry has a half-sister, singer Titiyo, and half-brother, record producer Cherno Jah, from her father Ahmadu Jah's marriage to Maylen Jah (née Bergström). Cherry also has a half-brother, musician Eagle-Eye Cherry, a stepsister, violinist Jan Cherry, and a stepbrother, jazz musician David Ornette Cherry from stepfather Don Cherry's side.
Cherry's parents, Moki and Don Cherry, bought a house in 1970 in the countryside outside the small town of Hässleholm in Sweden, in an old schoolhouse that was built in the turn of the century. On her home, "The way they were, with their creativity, their art...the music, and their idea of how they wanted to live, was all very much connected. They had an idea that they wanted to create together, with other people. So our house was an 'open house.' A lot of people visited, a lot of musicians came. That upbringing has definitely filtered through into who I am and the way I live.
Neneh Cherry (born Neneh Mariann Karlsson on March 10, 1964 in Stockholm) is a two-time Grammy Award-nominated and MTV Europe Music Award-winning Swedish singer-songwriter and rapper. Cherry is also an occasional DJ and broadcaster. Cherry blended hip hop with other influences, and experienced some moderate mainstream success with several of her recordings.
December 8, 1994, Neneh hosted Top Of The Pops 2 (BBC)
In April 2006 Neneh Cherry appeared with the Gorillaz at the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York. Neneh appeared in the CD/DVD on the track "Kids With Guns".
Cherry's duet with Youssou N'Dour, "7 Seconds", remained at number 1 in France for a record 17 weeks in 1994.
April 1994 - Cherry performed 7 Seconds w/Youssou N'Dour, live on the David Letterman show in New York City from the historical Ed Sullivan Theatre. Neneh and Youssou were served soup from the local Rupert's deli during the live interview with Dave.
Cherry is mentioned in the 1995 book Bulletproof Diva: Tales of Race, Sex, and Hair by Lisa Jones. Lisa is the daughter of poet LeRoi Jones a.k.a Amiri Baraka
During Cherry's 1996-1997 World Tour to support the Man CD, she closed each show with the 80s punk anthem "Germ Free Adolescents"
In April 2007 Cherry accidentally swore on live daytime TV whilst being interviewed on Channel 4's The Paul O'Grady Show
Raw Like Sushi
Who's that gigolo on the street
With his hands in his pockets and his crocadile feet
Hanging off the curb, looking all disturbed
At the boys from home. They all came running
They were making noise, manhandling toys
That's the girls on the block with the nasty curls
Wearing padded bras sucking beers through straws
Dropping down their drawers, where did you get yours?
Gigolo, Huh, sukka?
Gigolo. Gigolo, Huh, sukka?
Who's looking good today?
Who's looking good in every way?
No style rookie
You better watch don't mess with me
No moneyman can win my love
It's sweetness that I'm thinking of.
We always hang in a Buffalo Stance
We do the dive every time we dance
I'll give you love baby not romance
I'll make a move nothing left to chance
So don't you get fresh with me
Get funky. Yeah Timmy.
Tell it like it is. Check out this DJ.
So you say you wanted money but you know it's never funny
When your shoes worn through and there's a rumble in your tummy
But you had to have style get a gold tooth smile
Put a girl on the corner so you can make a pile
Committed a crime and went inside
It was coming your way but you had to survive
When you lost your babe, you lost the race
Now you're looking at me to take her place.
Smokin.' Not cokin.' Get funky sax.
Looking good, hanging with the wild bunch.
Looking good in a Buffalo Stance.
Looking good when it comes to the crunch
Looking good's a state of mind
State of mind don't look behind you
State of mind or you'll be dead
State of mind may I remind you
Bomb the Bass...rock this place!
What is he like? What's he like anway?
Yo' man what do you expect the guy's a gigolo man
You know I mean?
Chorus2 X 2
Wind on my face, sound in my ears
Water from my eyes, and you on my mind
As I sink, diving down deep...deeper into your soul.
Chorus2 to fade