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Arinzé Kene in Misty (Photo: Helen Murray)

Playlists Challenge: Misty’s Arinzé Kene

Robin Johnson

By Robin Johnson Published 22 October 2018

They say a performer is a “triple threat” when they can excel in three of the major theatrical skills: acting, dancing and singing. It’s a rare combination, and one worthy of the additional title. What they haven’t yet invented a word for is Arinzé Kene’s set of skills. In his solo masterpiece Misty, currently playing at Trafalgar Studios, Arinzé writes, performs, acts, sings, recants poetry, delivers comedy, raps and enacts physical theatre – whilst telling an urgent and empowering story to boot.

We recently described Misty as “a one-man show unlike any other.” So to better understand it, we delved into the musical inspirations behind Misty by inviting Arinzé to tackle our playlists challenge, in which he cites the role of music in his understanding of the world.

To join in:

  1. Plug in your headphones.
  2. Scroll down the page below…
  3. … and click the play button for each song to get a sense of the song!

You can also enjoy Arinzé’s choices in a Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

Which song…

… are you listening to a lot at the moment?

I’m listening to a song called Black Truck by an artist named Mereba, whom I randomly discovered all on my own, actually! I love the lyrics, and I think her as an artist… I kind of fancy her a bit as well! So I’m slowly falling in love while listening to her voice. She’s got an incredible voice.

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… is your favourite commuter tune?

Bombs Over Baghdad (B.O.B.), which is an Outkast song. It gives you that sense that you’re moving – you know, weaving through traffic!

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… reminds you of growing up?

Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay. Otis Redding’s version! My Dad used to play that very often, on a lot of Sundays.

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… did you first perform in public?

Love by an artist called Musiq Soulchild. That was the first song I sang in public, and I didn’t sing again for a few years actually, because I forgot the lyrics while I was on stage and it was really embarrassing! I was about 14.

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… was the first song you can remember buying?

I think it was Tha Crossroads by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. It was a hip-hop single in the 90s. It was the song coming on The Box [TV channel] very often. We’d phone up and give the number and we’d have them play it on The Box, on cable [TV] at the time. And when I saw that it was available as a single, I spent my pocket money on it!

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… makes you the happiest?

Superstition by Stevie Wonder. The vibe of it! I love the instrumentation, it makes you wanna get up! It’s also my morning song, it’s a really good song to get you up and feeling good.

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… do you have to turn off when it comes on the radio?

That would probably be Daddy Cool Boney M, haha! I did a musical a very long time ago called ‘Daddy Cool’, and it was my second professional job. There were quite a few things that just went wrong! That brings back some bad memories, so when I hear that song, I have to leave the room!

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… is your guilty pleasure?

Ooh, it’s Britney Spears – Toxic! Classic Britney Spears, all day! I actually think it’s a brilliant song. In the hands of anyone it would’ve been a hit anyway, like in the hands of Rihanna, Beyoncé, even Christina [Aguilera]. So much was right about that song, and all you needed was a decent voice to sing it. I’d stand by that song!

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… is most likely to make you cry?

That would be Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder. It’s a song for Martin Luther King Jr… I hear it, and from one legend to another, from Stevie to Martin Luther King, it just makes me emotional that Stevie would go through all he went through to try and get Martin Luther King noticed and acknowledged in America. And to write a song and perform it at all his concerts… it’s just so moving to me. Two of my idols speaking to each other.

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… inspires you?

F.U.B.U. by Solange. I love that song – it makes me feel powerful. It’s called For Us By Us, and it’s a song that specifically talks about the struggle of the black person in the world, about being treated like a second-class citizen in certain situations. [It talks] of aspiring to be great, and getting on despite those obstacles – of breaking through. That’s what the song’s about, and it makes me feel good.

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Spotify playlist of Arinzé’s choices:

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Arinzé Kene misty Spotify Playlist Trafalgar Studios

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