Soundtrack Of My Life: Clara Amfo

BBC Radio 1 presenter, Glasto regular and all-round legend

The song I wish I’d written

Prince – ‘The Beautiful Ones’

“I love this song so much. I love the whole ‘Purple Rain’ soundtrack. It’s a very tender, but quite needy song. He’s forlorn over this girl – he’s really pleading for this woman’s affection, attention and her love. I love the drama. I got to see him at KOKO in London a few years ago – it was one of the best musical experiences of my life.”

The first song I remember hearing

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Daddy Lumba – ‘Aben Wo Aha’

“I suspect it probably would have been some sort of Ghanaian pop music that my parents were playing in the house. Ghanaian music is called Highlife. And there’s lots of different versions of it now. There’s a really popular song that’s always played at Ghanaian weddings. If you ask for any Ghanaian classics, they’ll be like, “Oh, okay.” It is by a guy called Daddy Lumba. it makes everyone run to the dance floor. I just remember hearing that as a little kid.”

The first album I owned

Lauryn Hill – ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’

“A year or two ago I chucked out all my CDs. I probably kept a sacred 10 to 15 that I had such an emotional attachment to that I couldn’t throw out, and ‘The Miseducation…’ was one. It just means so much to me. I actually had the pleasure of meeting her at the end of 2018 when she was last in the UK touring. I said to her, ‘Thank you.’ Because I think the themes that that album explores, it just made me feel really seen. I can confidently say I know every single word to every single song on that album. There will never be a time in my life where I don’t listen to it.”

The first gig I went to

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Skunk Anansie – The Lost Weekend Festival, London Arena, July 2000

“Skin’s incredible, and again, just that visibility. I was like, ‘Yes, come through, punk rock black women, this is fucking amazing!’ I liked all the other bands but I was just there for Skunk Anansie. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is electric. I need to be around this.” I’m friendly with Skin now, she follows me on Instagram, which is a massive delight for me. I’m a real fan girl. I don’t know if she’s fully aware just how important she is to generations – female musicians and young black women.”

The song I can no longer listen to

Tones And I – ‘Dance Monkey’

“I never cared for it. That’s no disrespect to her personally. I know art is very personal, and it is not an attack to be nasty or mean, I’m just genuinely separating the song from the person, I do not care for that song at all and I’d be happy to never hear it ever again in my life.”

The song that changed my life

Outkast – ‘SpottieOttieDopaliscious’

“For me, they represent not playing by the rules. It’s delightfully cosmic, and it pays a beautiful homage to their Southern State roots. It was one of the first times I remember hearing a duo so different in style compliment each other that perfectly.”

The song I want played at my funeral

N.E.R.D – ‘Run To The Sun’

“Everyone knows I’m a Pharrell, Chad and Shay fan. Again, the sense of belonging I felt and still feel with that band, it just gives me really fond memories. He actually wrote it about his grandma passing away. I just love the lyric: “I wanna tell you something/It’s that I love you girl/Yeah, and I wish we could run to the sun/And never come back“. It’s that thing about being out of the body and running towards light. I think that’s what you would hope for when you pass away, if you do believe in the afterlife – you want to run towards comfort.”

The song I do at karaoke

Mariah Carey – ‘We Belong Together’

“It’s genuinely so difficult to sing. I don’t think people give Mariah Carey enough credit – people forget that she literally writes all of her songs and produces a lot of them too. Besides being a fantastic vocalist. And the diction you need to sing a song like that perfectly, it’s so hard, it’s a very wordy song, especially in the verses, and it’s so hard. So trying to sing it is very entertaining!”

The album I’ve gone back to during lockdown

Solange – ‘A Seat At The Table’

“It’s honestly been therapeutic for me. With everything that’s been going on in the world it’s been a proper source of refuge and affirmation. I can’t stop listening to it. It’s very comforting.”

Clara Amfo will take part in ‘The Glastonbury Experience’ (starting 25 June) – the BBC’s celebration of Glastonbury across TV, iPlayer, radio and Sounds to mark what would have been the festival’s 50th anniversary

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