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

toggle caption
Adam Kissick for NPR

Ruby Amanfu performs at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival.

Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Ruby Amanfu, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

Ruby Amanfu, Live In Concert

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/488261018/488366726" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

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

[+] read more[-] less

More From Newport Folk Festival

Margo Price performs at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Margo Price, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

The country singer, who's been compared to Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, blazed through a set that demonstrated she's forging her own path. Hear the full concert.

Margo Price, Live In Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/488567946/489335199" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Julien Baker performs at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Julien Baker, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

The 20-year-old Memphian's ragged-edged voice and ringing Telecaster were all it took to win over the Newport audience. Hear her solo set.

Julien Baker, Live In Concert

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/488354526/488544443" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

From left: Rebecca Lovell, Elvis Costello, Glen Hansard, Conor O'Brien and Megan Lovell at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. Josh Wool for Newport Folk Festival hide caption

toggle caption Josh Wool for Newport Folk Festival

Newport Folk Festival

Elvis Costello, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

Joined by guests including Glen Hansard and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Costello performs songs from every chapter of his extensive catalog.

Elvis Costello, Live At Newport Folk 2016

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487843423/487843997" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

River Whyless performs at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. Bob Boilen/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Bob Boilen/NPR

Newport Folk Festival

River Whyless, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

The folk-pop band builds mountains out of sensitive harmony lines at the Newport Folk Festival. Kam Franklin of Houston soul band The Suffers joined them on a Woody Guthrie-Wilco cover.

River Whyless, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487320023/487374592" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Joan Shelley performing at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Joan Shelley, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

"These are the smallest songs you'll hear at this folk festival this year, I think," Shelley said of her set with guitarist Nathan Salsburg. Small songs, perhaps, but each one contained a world.

Joan Shelley, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487324284/487390566" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, with Matthew Logan Vasquez, perform at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

The rootsy soul band worked through simmering soul grooves and hip-swinging honky-tonk.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

Audio is no longer available

Ryan Adams performs at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Ryan Adams, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

The Newport favorite brought along some special guests for Saturday's most anticipated set.

Ryan Adams, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487235301/487257799" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

St. Paul & the Broken Bones perform live at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

Listen to the rollicking soul band perform songs from its upcoming sophomore album, Sea Of Noise.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487150344/487170813" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Violent Femmes perform at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Violent Femmes, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

The off-again, on-again rock band from Milwaukee, Wisc., built a careening, playful set around mainstays like "Blister In The Sun" and new songs like "I Could Be Anything."

Violent Femmes, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2016

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487149521/487170600" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Madisen Ward And The Mama Bear perform at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

Newport Folk Festival

Madisen Ward And The Mama Bear, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2015

The mother-and-son duo radiated easy familiarity and sincerity during this charming afternoon set, with songs from their debut album Skeleton Crew.

Madisen Ward And The Mama Bear, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2015

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/429049449/434694125" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top