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Neneh Cherry, Primavera Award 2019

  • The artist will be awarded the prize within the framework of Primavera Pro, and will participate in a conversation about her career

She debuted in society thirty years ago, with an addictive collection of manifestos which were “raw like sushi”, and today she sings about a panorama of “broken politics”. The profound coherence of Neneh Cherry’s discourse is in contrast with the unpredictable surface of her musical output, full of swerves to the left and periods of silence that have been stages of both reflection and defiance in the face of the productivity demands that the music industry imposes on its artists. But even when she has stepped to one side to get things into perspective, her songs have still been a guiding light for those who consider that pop is an instrument of resistance, a vehicle of relevant themes and deep emotions. That is why, Neneh Cherry deserves the Primavera Award 2019.

Almudena Heredero, director of Primavera Pro, explains the decision to honour the author of songs like Manchild, Woman and the recent Natural Skin Deep: “Neneh Cherry’s voice has accompanied us for many years, inspiring us and surprising us with every one of her new projects. The impact of her music became undeniable as she took more and more risky decisions, both in terms of music and in terms of ideology. In a year in which Primavera Pro will focus on the active role of women in culture, paying homage to a rebellious personality such as hers was an option that was not only logical but also necessary”.

A life in music

Usually the 1988 release of the LP Raw Like Sushi is quoted as being Neneh Cherry’s debut but, in fact, her contact with music goes back to when, as an adolescent, she precociously joined the London post-punk scene, performing with several bands and playing reggae music on a pirate radio station. Even before that, in a childhood marked by the influence of the mentoring by her stepfather, the free jazz trumpet player Don Cherry, from whom she probably learnt a concept of music open to the unexpected and to a mixture of registers, that underpins early hits such as Buffalo Stance, which made her a revelation for critics and audiences alike.

Neneh Cherry’s career has also been open to collaboration, starting with her husband and artistic partner for thirty years, Cameron McVey, and passing through names such as Pulp, Gorillaz and Youssou N’Dour, with whom she composed and sang 7 Seconds, one of the essential songs of the nineties, and The Thing, a trio of Norwegian jazz with which she signed the album The Cherry Thing in 2012.  More recently, Ms Cherry has found in Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) an essential ally, involved in the composition and production of Blank Project (2014) and Broken Politics (2018), both of which are in equal parts angry and subtle albums, with which the artist has once more brought her name to the forefront of the music scene. 

The presentation of the Primavera Award to Neneh Cherry will take place on Friday 31st May within the framework of Primavera Pro. Then the artist will have a conversation about her career with Natty Kasambala, a journalist from the British magazine gal-dem. On Saturday 1st June, Neneh Cherry will play in Barcelona, as part of the Primavera Sound programme.  

Primavera Pro 2019 will take place from 29th May to 2nd June in the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB). The Basic and Premium accreditations and the Day Pro Conference tickets can be purchased through this link.