Ruby Amanfu

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Ruby Amanfu
Ruby - Press Shot 1 - Shervin Lainez.jpg
Ruby Amanfu
Background information
GenresAlternative Pop, Soul, folk, R&B, Americana
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano
Years active1998–present
LabelsThirty Tigers, Rival & Co, Spongebath, Polydor UK, Rykodisc
Associated actsSam & Ruby, The Collective, Jack White, Hozier, Brett Dennen, Sara Bareilles, Ryan Adams, Katie Herzig, Butterfly Boucher
WebsiteRuby Amanfu on Facebook

Ruby Amanfu is a Ghanaian-born singer and songwriter based out of Nashville, TN. Amanfu has released seven studio albums and multiple singles. She is well known for being one half of the duo Sam & Ruby, whose album was named Associated Press Album of the Year in 2009. Amanfu is also known for her collaborations with Jack White in his all-female band, The Peacocks, and has widely appeared on his critically acclaimed solo albums, Blunderbuss and Lazaretto.

Throughout her career, Amanfu has collaborated on many diverse and successful musical projects. With the release of Standing Still, she has launched her solo career to critical acclaim from Rolling Stone, Billboard, and NPR First Listen. Although Amanfu has been a lifelong songwriter on all of her other projects, for Standing Still she chose to do an album of interpretations of songs written by other people, from Woody Guthrie to Kanye West. The intimate album was created in just five days and recorded in a secluded log cabin in the rolling hills of Tennessee. One of the songs Amanfu chose to add to the project was “Shadow on the Wall” from the 2007 album, The Story, written by Brandi Carlile and Tim Hanseroth. Amanfu’s version was produced by Patrick Carney (Black Keys, Sad Planets), engineered by Mark Howard (Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, U2, R.E.M., Neil Young), mixed by Tom Elmhirst (Amy Winehouse, Adele, David Bowie, Beck) and featured the band, The Candles (Norah Jones, Alberta Cross.) When Carlile heard Amanfu’s version of “Shadow on the Wall” it wasn’t long before Carlile added to her project, Cover Stories, which celebrated the 10 year anniversary of The Story, benefitting the charity, War Child.

Amanfu premiered her video for "Shadow on the Wall", directed by Catherine Pierce of The Pierces, via KCRW Music Blog on August 10, 2015.

Early life and education[edit]

Ruby Amanfu was born in Accra, Ghana to a tight-knit musical family of five. When she was three years old, her father moved the family to Nashville, Tennessee, where from an early age she flourished among the sights and sounds of the Music City. She started writing songs and entered a school talent show in the third grade where she took home the first place prize—a 10-pack of gumballs.

More talent shows followed, as well as a knack for literary competitions wherein she discovered her passion for writing song lyrics. She was educated in the private and magnet school systems and attended high school at the prestigious Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School, whose premiere Fine Arts program afforded her an on-site studio where she had the opportunity to write and record her own songs.

In her sophomore year of high school, Amanfu was chosen for The Nashville Symphony Chorus, becoming the youngest member of the group at age 15.[1] She performed with the group for one season.

The next year, Amanfu was introduced by a classmate to a local philanthropic couple, Dave and Becky Matthews. The Matthews' took interest in Amanfu’s songwriting and financially supported her first full-length album, So Now The Whole World Knows, with Dave at the helm as engineer and co-producer with Amanfu. The LP was fully recorded at The Matthews' well-appointed home studio by the time Amanfu finished high school.

Amanfu attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts until she transferred to Belmont University in hometown Nashville, Tennessee.



Shortly after the release of So Now The Whole World Knows, Amanfu signed to independent record label Spongebath Records. She began working with Grammy nominated singer/songwriter, Tommy Sims, co-author of Eric Clapton’s Change the World. Sims produced and co-wrote Amanfu’s first hit single, "Sugah".

Throughout 2001, Amanfu was being courted by record labels across the country when the prestigious UK A&R publication, The Tip Sheet, named Amanfu’s song "Sugah" as their "Tip of the Week." UK record label Polydor Records and Scandinavian music house Murlyn Music Group both became interested in the single and signed her to a co-venture between their companies as well as Interscope Records in the U.S.

While on Polydor, Amanfu released her second album, Smoke & Honey (Polydor 2003). Her hit "Sugah",[2] from the album reached number three on the US Pop Airplay Charts and number 52 on the Austrian Charts.[3]

Early work[edit]

Amanfu met fellow musician Sam Brooker at a writer’s round in Nashville in 1999. The two became fast friends. In 2002, the pair penned their first song, "The Here and The Now," for which Amanfu wrote the lyrics and melody and Brooker the music. Amanfu and Brooker began to co-write another set of songs in 2004. The pair was invited by friend and musician, Dan Dyer, to open for him at Saxon Pub in Austin, TX during South by Southwest. Amanfu and Brooker became Sam & Ruby, and went on to complete a collection of songs that became their first self-titled EP.[4] Sam & Ruby toured relentlessly in late 2006 through late 2009, including subsequent appearances at Voodoo Experience.[5] They released their first LP entitled The Here and The Now on Rykodisc Records in 2009. Their album received top honors by the Associated Press, which called it the Best Album of 2009 in their top ten albums list.[6] Amanfu and Brooker went on to release an EP entitled Press On in February 2010.

Post-Sam & Ruby, Amanfu collaborated with artists as diverse as Kelly Clarkson, Jason Isbell, Norah Jones, Brittany Howard, Alison Mosshart, Ann Wilson, Patti LaBelle, Wanda Jackson, Sara Bareilles, and Ryan Adams. She has had songs cut by Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, Lene Nystrøm, Sanne Salomonsen and Rachael Lampa. Amanfu co-wrote the song "Heaven's My Home" with Katie Herzig, which was performed by The Duhks and nominated for a 2007 Grammy award for Best Country Performance.

In 2008, Amanfu sang a duet with Patti LaBelle at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana.[7]

Amanfu sang backup on Wanda Jackson's 2011 promotional tour for her album, The Party Ain't Over, produced by Jack White. Together, they performed "Shakin' All Over" on the Late Show with David Letterman[8] and "Funnel of Love" on Conan.[9][10]Amanfu’s other musical collaborators include Trent Dabbs, Ben Folds, Bloodshy & Avant, Dan Wilson, Tommy Sims, Seasick Steve,[11] Steve Cropper, Chris Thile, Michael Daves.[12]

Edna Gundersen of USA Today said that on "I Wonder,"—a tune with Brittany Howard—"Amanfu put a rocking reggae spin on Sixto "Sugar Man" Rodriquez's 1970 gem."

In 2011, Amanfu appeared on NBC’s vocal competition, The Sing Off Season 3, as part of The Collective. The group comprises 9 Nashville Independent Artists, including former duo partner, Sam Brooker.[13]

Amanfu then lent her voice to Jack White for his single "Love Interruption" from his first ever solo effort, Blunderbuss. The song premiered on January 30, 2012,[14] the same day that Amanfu's EP, "The Simple Sessions," was released. Amanfu's four-song EP was produced by Charlie Peacock.

Amanfu recorded on the Grammy nominated Jack White solo album "Blunderbuss", and recently received gold record for over 500,000 sales. Amanfu performed with Jack White at the 2013 Grammys, singing "Love Interruption".

During his tour for the album Blunderbuss, White employed The Peacocks, an all female band consisting of Ruby Amanfu as well as Carla Azar, Lillie Mae Rische, Maggie Björklund, Brooke Waggoner, and alternating bassists Bryn Davies and Catherine Popper.[15] Amanfu also sang several tracks on Jack's second album, Lazaretto.

On October 15, 2013, Amanfu released a double single that featured the tracks "Bluff" and "Love Out Loud". "Bluff" was written by Amanfu and Katie Herzig and produced by Butterfly Boucher and Herzig. "Love Out Loud" was written by Amanfu along with Shannon Sanders and Drew Ramsey, and was produced by Thom Donovan with additional production by Amanfu.

The next fall, Amanfu joined Hozier on his US tour and appeared with him on Saturday Night Live.

Solo career[edit]

On August 28, 2015, Amanfu released her newest solo album Standing Still (Thirty Tigers/Rival & Co 2015), produced by Mark Howard (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris) and Austin Scaggs, with guest producer Patrick Carney of The Black Keys who produced single "Shadow on the Wall," originally by Brandi Carlile. Standing Still consists mainly of deep cuts by an eclectic array of songwriters and artists, from Woody Guthrie to Richard Hawley. Some highlights include Bob Dylan’s "Not Dark Yet," and a reinterpretation of Kanye West’s "Streetlights." The intimate new album was created in just five days, while Amanfu and a six-piece band recorded and lived in a secluded log cabin in the rolling hills of Tennessee. The entire album was recorded live.

Ruby performs alongside Weezer at the inaugural Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival in Franklin, Tennessee in 2015.

Amanfu has received critical acclaim from national outlets such as Rolling Stone, who confirmed that Amanfu has "Plenty of gospel power, delivering measured doses (who) never overusing with her soulful, richly textured voice, letting the songs tell the story."[16] Billboard, praised Amanfu as "Nashville’s next Indie Star,"[17] and NPR’s First Listen, who called Amanfu "magnetic." [18] Ann Powers tweeted "All about the chills when @RubyAmanfu sings," while Jon Pareles included Amanfu in his New York Times playlist in January 2016.[19] Local publications from her hometown Nashville, including The Tennessean and Nashville Scene, as well as some of the artists that inspired the album, such as Brandi Carlile, also praised Amanfu for her honest voice and character.[20][21]

Amanfu performed alongside Norah Jones for select US tour dates in 2016, as well as her own shows and appearances at festivals.

Amanfu has performed 10 times at Nashville's historical Ryman Auditorium as a solo artist as well as in collaborations with John Prine, Norah Jones and Fisk Jubilee Singers.

In 2017, Amanfu performed at Lincoln Center’s Kaplan Penthouse, making it her second performance at Lincoln Center.

Amanfu has performed as a solo artist in several music festivals including Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, Americana Fest, Cayamo, Newport Folk Festival, Pilgrimage Festival, Music City Food + Wine’s Harvest Night and Girls Just Wanna Weekend. Amanfu orchestrated her own fest called Ruby & Friends in Nashville for 2 years at the reputable venue, 3rd & Lindsley in both 2016 and 2017.

In 2018, Amanfu signed on to become a Facebook Featured Artist on their new music platform, Sound Collection. Amanfu contributes as a songwriter, producer and artist, sharing songs which all Facebook and Instagram creators and site users can add to their posts without fear of major labels blocking their content.

In 2018, Amanfu became the official emcee and host of True Taste of Music, an interactive, yearly event that pairs musicians and chefs for one night only in a private dinner experience for VIP guests.

In 2019, Amanfu joined Brandi Carlile and friends in Riviera Maya, Mexico for Girls Just Wanna Weekend music festival.[22]

Other Ventures[edit]

Amanfu joined Hozier on tour adding backing vocals with her Nashville friend, Rachael Lampa. She was on tour for 6 weeks at the launch of the album in the USA (Sept 29 – Nov 6, 2014).

Ruby Amanfu joined friend Reese Witherspoon as a musical guest at the Nashville native’s first Draper James store opening party on October 28, 2015.[23] She performed alongside Lee Ann Womack to a crowd of A-list Nashville locals, including Faith Hill, Sheryl Crow, Lily Aldridge, Nathan Followill, Jessie Baylin, Kacey Musgraves, singer Cam and Reba McEntire. Amanfu also models for Draper James and was featured in Elle Magazine’s June 2015 issue as a model for Draper James alongside Reese Witherspoon.

Amanfu was named one of Southern Living’s Best Dressed Southerners of 2015,[24] and was one of Nashville Lifestyles’ 25 Most Beautiful People of 2015,[25]

In 2016, Billboard did a story on Amanfu detailing her contribution to Beyoncé’s album, Lemonade. Amanfu sings the haunting, operatic vocals on the Jack White-produced track titled “Don't Hurt Yourself.”[26]

In 2016, Amanfu was a featured guest on friend Patricia Heaton’s cooking show, “Patricia Heaton Parties” on the Food Network.[27]

In 2017, Amanfu appeared in 2 episodes of Nashville as herself where she performed her original songs and acted alongside Joseph D. Jones.

In 2018, Amanfu was featured on friend Andrew Zimmern’s show, “The Zimmern List,” [28] which aired on Travel Channel. Amanfu and Zimmern became fast friends in 2015 after meeting at Music City Food + Wine Festival in Nashville.

In 2018, Amanfu co-wrote two songs on the critically acclaimed project, I Used To Know Her: Part 2, released by multi-Grammy-winning artist, H.E.R. The song titles are “Fate” and “Hard Place”, the latter of which was performed live on the 61st Grammy Awards in 2019.

In 2019, Amanfu publicly shared her story of career-hindering, emotional abuse at the hands of Ryan Adams during the making of an album produced by Adams in 2016. Tracking was done at Adams’ studio PaxAm in Los Angeles in the late Winter and early Spring of 2016 and featured musicians including Don Was (Was (Not Was), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty), James Gadson (Bill Withers, Paul McCartney, Beck), Todd Wisenbaker and Charlie Stavish. The album was never completed nor released.


Amanfu performed at "Girls Just Wanna Have Funds" charity event in Nashville in October 2015 to support the Nashville YWCA.[29] In addition, Amanfu supports many other local charities, including Thistle Farms/Magdalene, the Nashville Rescue Mission, Hands On Nashville, Nashville Public Television, Second Harvest Food Bank, Soles 4 Souls, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, and eXile International.[30]


  • So Now The Whole World Knows (Lost Frogs Records 1998)
  • Smoke & Honey (Polydor UK 2003)
  • "Sam & Ruby" EP (2006)
  • The Here and The Now (2009)
  • Press On (2010)
  • "The Simple Sessions" EP (Twenty Ten Music 2012)
  • "Bluff" Single 2013
  • "Love Out Loud" Single 2013
  • Standing Still (2015)

Film and television placements[edit]


  1. ^ "Ruby Amanfu". Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  2. ^ "Ruby Amanfu — Free listening, videos, concerts, stats and pictures at". Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  3. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Ruby Amanfu - Sugah". Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  4. ^ "Sam and Ruby". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  5. ^ "Past Artists | VOODOO Music Experience 2011 :: Worship the Music :: October 28.29.30". Archived from the original on 2012-01-06. Retrieved 2012-02-07. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "The 10 best albums of 2009 - Entertainment - Music -". 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2011-10-16.
  7. ^ "LIFE - TIME". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  8. ^ "Wanda Jackson and Jack White 'Shake' 'Letterman' | Billboard". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  9. ^ "Video: Wanda Jackson, Jack White Perform on "Conan"; Jackson Has Kind Words for Elvis Presley". Nonesuch Records Official Website. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  10. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Seasick Steve - Write Me A Few Lines". Discogs. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  12. ^ "Chris Thile & Michael Daves - Man In The Middle". Discogs. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  13. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ NME.COM. "Jack White's collaborator on 'Love Interruption' revealed as Ruby Amanfu | NME.COM". NME.COM. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  15. ^ "Ferocious: Jack White and The Peacocks Live at The Wiltern Theatre Los Angeles 5/31/12 (Photos, Set List and More) |". Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  16. ^ "Hear Ruby Amanfu's Nashville Twist on Kanye West's 'Streetlights'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  17. ^ "Ruby Amanfu Talks About New Album 'Standing Still' | Billboard". Billboard. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  18. ^ Hight, Jewly. "Review: Ruby Amanfu, 'Standing Still'". Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  19. ^ Pareles, Jon (2015-12-30). "A Shirley Collins Tribute and Other Projects". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  20. ^ "Ruby Amanfu finds her story in others' songs". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  21. ^ Hight, Jewly. "Ruby Amanfu takes center stage on solo debut". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Reese Witherspoon's Draper James Store Launch Involves Tears, Biscuits and Sweet Tea-Vodkas (This Is The South, Y'all!)". Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  24. ^ "50 Best-Dressed Southerners 2015". Southern Living. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  25. ^ "Nashville Lifestyles' 25 Most Beautiful People 2015 - Nashville Lifestyles". Archived from the original on 2016-01-26. Retrieved 2016-01-22. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Girls Just Wanna Have Funds". YWCA Nashville. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  30. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. ^ The Secret Life of Bees (2008) - Soundtracks
  32. ^ "ABC Family - ABC Family Sound Booth - Sound Booth Blogs Detail". Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  33. ^ "Hope Springs (2012)". Soundtrack.Net. 2012-08-08. Retrieved 2013-02-21.

External links[edit]