November 3, 2013


Don't Sleep on Voodoo Standout Ruby Amanfu

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Ruby Amanfu first hit the Voodoo stage in 2006 with her previous music project Sam & Ruby. She took the main stage with Jack White six years later for an impromptu performance of their collaboration "Love Interruption" off the Grammy-nominated Blunderbuss.

But Saturday night on the Flambeau stage, Ruby had her very own Voodoo moment.

The soul/R&B singer took the stage in a black velvet dress and a jeweled headpiece looking a little something like a mysterious gypsy—a fitting metaphor for her somewhat winding career.

The Ghana born singer-songwriter moved with her family to Nashville when she was three years old and took little time to make her mark on the Music City. She won her third grade talent show (and a pack of gumballs) and at 15, she became the youngest member of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Amanfu attended Berklee College of Music not long before meeting fellow musician Sam Brooker. The two went on to form the band Sam & Ruby and made waves with their haunting acoustic track "Heaven's My Home," featured on the soundtrack for the 2008 film The Secret Life of Bees.

And then came Jack White.

White and Amanfu's collaboration "Love Interruption" off White's debut solo album Blunderbuss scored the pair a gold record. She then became a vocalist in White's all-female backup band The Peacocks and they hit the road together in 2012.

But back to Saturday night.

Backed by a five piece band and introduced by her stage manager as "one of the finest voices in the world," Amanfu brought a little grit and whole lot of soul to City Park.

Amanfu sang a lot about "boys," as she called them, and she didn't have the nicest things to say. She took a swig of wine before belting out the growling "Hope It Felt Good," explaining to the crowd, "I often talk about naughty boys because I often find myself in trouble with them."

She introduced the crowd to her latest singles, "Bluff" and "Love Out Loud," a song that addresses the "necessity for equal rights of all humankind." The standout moments of the set, though, were her solo performances of "When My Man Comes Home" and "I Wonder," two blues covers she usually performs with Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard as part of their Blue Series for Third Man Records.

Amanfu wrapped up her 45-minute set with a thank you, a shout out to "all the hot people in the crowd" and a promise that she'd be back soon. We're counting on it.