When she’s not writing songs, playing shows to rapt audiences, or collaborating with people like Jack White and Beyoncé, Nashville’s own Ruby Amanfu is an ace in the kitchen and a food columnist. In this delectable playlist, she selects tunes guaranteed to take your dinner party game to the next level. Ruby will be performing in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse on March 29, 2017, as part of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook.
"Only Trust Your Heart" by Astrud Gilberto
I usually start off an evening with Brazilian music when I cook for friends and astrud's voice soothes me. Perfect for when you're mixing and pouring the cocktails and serving the h'ors d'oeuvres.
"Inertia Creeps" by Massive Attack
This is a song for when things really start heating up in the kitchen and you need to stay focused and on your A game. When the bass guitar kicks in, if that doesn't get you in the zone, then you probably shouldn't be cooking.
"All Kinds" by Dan Wilson
From his Semisonic days to his solo stuff, Dan Wilson's albums are ones that I can play all the way through on repeat while I cook by myself. One Christmas Eve, I cooked through the night for 12 hours straight with his album Free Life on repeat and nothing else. Since I have to pick one I'm picking this one, but they all do the trick.
"Making Pies" by Patty Griffin
Self-explanatory, don'tcha think? I sang this song while making my first pie in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with my former duo (Sam & Ruby) partner's mom, Judy Brooker. Judy's a blue ribbon piemaker so you can imagine how eye opening that experience was. I couldn't help but break into this song when I'd finally gotten the hang of it!
"Sweetwater Sea" by Rachael Davis
Rachael's album Antebellum Queens is another one of those albums that I can listen to all the way through while cooking by myself. There's something steady and energetic about it that helps keep me motivated. Start with "Sweetwater Sea" and keep listening from there.
"The Surface" by Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes
Best played with a handful of something already ready to sprinkle from your fingertips, especially before you get to the outro. It will inspire you; I promise.
"Rumour Has It" by Adele
This is one of the most fun songs I know to cook to when I have to repeat a task like frying up wonton chips or cutting gnocchi. The repetitiveness of the drums helps give you a rhythm to your task.
"Orange Flower" by Angelica Garcia
This song inspires me to think outside of the box. It makes me feel tough, invincible, and in charge. My future father-in-law Charlie Peacock produced this one and he never misses.
"I Believe" by Stylezz and Denis Agamirov featuring Sam Ashworth
This song is good for when you are plating a gourmet meal. I listen to this song when I'm gunslinging squeeze bottles of arugula oil or balsamic vinegar, brushing a streak of orange-carrot purée onto a clean, white plate, or finishing a piece of sea bass with Hawaiian black salt. I pretend I'm a really hip chef when this song is on. Add to all of that, my hot fiancé's singing it and his voice always inspires confidence in me.
"Humble Me" by Norah Jones
Listen to this song when you're working on a comfort-food meal. A hearty spring or fall soup...a simply roasted chicken...a bowl full of crispy potatoes. This song soothes the soul, just like the food will.
"Harvest Moon" by Neil Young
When it's time to get your hands in those soap suds and clean up the mess, this is the one to go for. I breathe deeply just thinking about it. It's meditative to the max.
Listen to the full playlist.
About the Curator
Ruby Amanfu has built a rich and varied career based on an array of exceptional talents and a singular voice. Whether lending vocals to Beyoncé's album Lemonade, or writing and performing Grammy-nominated songs, the Ghana-born, Nashville-reared artist has generated a succession of critically acclaimed projects.
Read our Q&A with Ruby.