Singer Neneh Cherry's new album draws on 'Calais Jungle' visit

by Emma Batha | @emmabatha | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 20 September 2018 13:15 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Senegal's singer Youssou 'N' Dour and British- American rap artist Neneh Cherry (R) perform during the World Music Awards May 3, 1995. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Image Caption and Rights Information
The album tackles issues ranging from the migrant crisis and colonialism to gun violence

By Emma Batha

LONDON, Sept 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Pop singer Neneh Cherry is releasing a new album partly inspired by a trip to volunteer at the "Calais Jungle" refugee and migrant camp, British media reported on Wednesday.

The "Buffalo Stance" singer's fifth solo album "Broken Politics" - set for release on Oct 19 - tackles issues ranging from the migrant crisis and colonialism to gun violence.

Cherry, 54, told the London Evening Standard that a trip to volunteer at a community kitchen in the now disbanded "Calais Jungle" camp in northern France was "humbling, overwhelming".

"We refer to 'migrants' but we're talking about people who have left their homes, left people they love and walked into complete and utter hostility," said the Swedish-born singer who has a home in London.

"I wanted to reflect lives that are as valid as the ones we live."

The camp, a sprawling shanty town near the port of Calais, was once home to 10,000 refugees and migrants who hoped to reach Britain by stowing away on lorries, cars or trains.

Migrants prepare to leave their makeshift shelters in the "Jungle" on the third day of their evacuation and transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais, France, October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Cherry, daughter of Sierra Leone-born musician Ahmadu Jah and stepdaughter of jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, said she had found "beauty and dignity" when she visited the camp before its demolition in 2016.

In a Twitter post, she said her song "Kong" was an attempt to express the "growing disaster" of global displacement and the "deep pain" of people forced to leave the places they know and people they love.

"'Broken Politics' is about these extraordinary times we live in. Telling the stories of what people everywhere endure, because we are left misheard, misunderstood, and disillusioned," Cherry wrote in a Facebook posting.

"It is about feeling broken, disappointed, and sad, but having perseverance. It's a fight against the extinction of free thought and spirit."

The album also talks about gun violence plaguing inner cities.

"Gun disaster and its wasted lives are a modern-day tragedy," said Cherry. "Bring some humanity back into this crazy world."

Cherry, who will perform in Paris next week, is best known for her hit songs from the late 1980s and 1990s which include "Man Child" and "7 Seconds", a duet with Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour.

The new album, her first in four years, features artwork by Turner Prize winner Wolfgang Tillmans.

(Reporting by Emma Batha. Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit to see more stories.)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.