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Ruby Amanfu, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

Ruby Amanfu performs at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival.
Adam Kissick for NPR
Ruby Amanfu performs at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival.

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.

Set List

  • "How My Love Gets Made"
  • "I Am The Fire"
  • "Shadow On The Wall"
  • "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)"
  • "I Put A Spell On You"
  • "One By One"
  • "You Know I Know"
  • "Everything"
  • "Not Dark Yet"
  • "I Tried"
  • "Bluff"
  • Credits

    Audio: Joshua Rogosin, Suraya Mohamed, Loretta Rae; Photography: Adam Kissick

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