Sam Brooker is from Wisconsin. Ruby Amanfu is from Ghana. When Ruby first heard Sam perform, she says, “I saw Sam before Sam saw me…It took me about 2.2 seconds before I thought, I want some of that.” When Sam finally got to see Ruby perform, he says she “blew [him] away.” Despite the immediate attraction, Sam and Ruby was a long time coming.
Although Ruby moved to Nashville from Ghana at age three, she remembers the change as something that awakened “this thing I had in me all along”—her musical sensibility—even though her devoutly Christian parents sheltered her from secular music. Her parents wouldn’t even let her listen to jazz, but did eventually branch out, “At age ten, my best friend gave me Madonna’s Like a Prayer, and it really opened up my world.”
Meanwhile, Sam was finding new music in a wholly American way—by raiding his brother’s record collection. Soon, he had taken a liking to James Taylor, Parliament, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, and Prince. He formed a band in high school, played shows in college, and never looked back. Eventually, he made a contact in Nashville: “The guy from the company called me and said, ‘Your CD sucks but we like your voice. Would you like to come down and record in our studio and get a little better demo?'”
It would still be several years before Sam and Ruby officially became a duo, but their partnership has now come to fruition. On August 11, they’ll release their debut album, The Here and The Now, which adheres to their mantra: “We want people to feel it like we feel it,” says Ruby.
For a taste of The Here and The Now, check out this MP3 of “Sarah“. Below are Sam and Ruby’s Poetic Memories.
Poetic Memory is a regular Owl and Bear feature in which musicians disclose their influences—whether it’s albums, songs, artists, or something random. If you’re interested in being featured here, send us an email. Continue reading