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.
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. 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 Matthewses 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 Matthewses’ 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," off the album reached #3 on the Billboard Pop Airplay Charts and #52 on the Austrian Charts.
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. Sam & Ruby toured relentlessly in late 2006 through late 2009, including subsequent appearances at Voodoo Experience. 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. 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.
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 and "Funnel of Love" on Conan.Amanfu’s other musical collaborators include Trent Dabbs, Ben Folds, Bloodshy & Avant, Dan Wilson, Tommy Sims, Seasick Steve, Steve Cropper, Chris Thile, Michael Daves.
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.
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, 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 Bjorklund, Brooke Waggoner, and alternating bassists Bryn Davies and Catherine Popper. 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.
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.
Amanfu has received critical acclaim for Standing Still from national outlets such as Rolling Stone, who called the album "a tour through music history," Billboard, who praised Amanfu as "Nashville’s next Indie Star," and NPR’s First Listen, who called Amanfu "magnetic." Ann Powers tweeted "All about the chills when @RubyAmanfu sings," while Jon Pareles included Amanfu in his New York Times playlist in January 2016. 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 and Standing Still.
Amanfu premiered her video for "Shadow on the Wall," directed by Catherine Pierce of The Pierces, via KCRW Music Blog on August 10, 2015.
Amanfu performed alongside Norah Jones for select US tour dates, as well as her own shows and appearances at festiv
als. Amanfu’s reinterpreation of "For the Turnstiles" was one of Rolling Stone’s "10 Best Things We Saw at Neil Fest." She joined Weezer on stage at the inaugural Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival for an incredible rendition of "Go Away," one of the Tennessean’s "5 favorite moments from Day 1 of Pilgrimage Festival." Amanfu also made appearances at Oaktopia, Americana Fest, and Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, as well as at Nashville Eats alongside Caleb Followill and Kings of Leon.
In 2017, she appeared in 2 episodes of Nashville as herself where she performed alongside one of the show's characters.
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. 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.
Amanfu was named one of Southern Living’s Best Dressed Southerners of 2015, and was one of Nashville Lifestyles’ 25 Most Beautiful People of 2015, and was featured in Elle Magazine’s June 2015 issue as a model for Draper James alongside Reese Witherspoon.
Amanfu performed at "Girls Just Wanna Have Funds" charity event in Nashville in October 2015 to support the Nashville YWCA. 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.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)
The Secret Life of Bees (film) - "Heaven's My Home" by Sam & Ruby
Pretty Little Liars (TV series) - "Turn Our Eyes Away" by Trent Dabbs with Ruby Amanfu
Hope Springs (2012 film) - "Ain't Love Something" by Sam & Ruby