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IN THE HOT SEAT: Radio presenter Clara Amfo

“AS the cheesy metaphor goes - if music was my body, hip-hop and R&B would be my heartbeat,” says BBC 1Xtra radio host Clara Amfo.

“But I genuinely love all sorts of music.”

And with her new role as the host of the BBC Radio 1 Official Chart Show, Amfo is happy that she can share her diverse music interests with the masses.

“As a black woman, well as a black person, that’s something I’m quite proud of.

“People can potentially see black people and be like ‘oh you must only like R&B, oh you must only like hip-hop or soca’.
“And I’m like ‘no, not at all’.”

Amfo, who has interviewed top musicians including Drake, Tinie Tempah, Nicki Minaj and Alicia Keys during her career, completed her first chart show on Sunday (Jan 25), and she seems to be struggling to get her head around her exciting new job.

“It was extremely surprising and extremely surreal. I can absolutely say that I was not expecting it in the slightest.”

Unexpected, perhaps because she only started her morning show on 1Xtra 18 months ago.

“When it got offered to me, I had a bit of a moment, I won’t lie. I was stunned into silence, had a bit of nervous laughter and maybe cried a little bit,” she admits with a chuckle.

Still feeling slightly overwhelmed, Amfo adds: “I don’t think it will ever sink in, and in a weird way, I almost don’t want it to. I want to keep the excitement in.”


HAPPY: Amfo with US producer and singer Pharrell

Amfo, who is the second female and first black female to host the Official Chart Show since it launched in the 60s as Pick of the Pops, has replaced Jameela Jamil who voiced the programme for two years.

Amfo says: “I don’t feel pressure for being a) a female or b) a black female, to be honest.

“The way I try and live my life in general is I’ve just got to do things on my terms. I’m going to my very best for me and for the listeners.”

The radio host adds: “As a professional, I think that’s essentially the most pressure I feel. I want to be as good as my predecessors, and the people who will come after me.”

Amfo, 28, is not exactly a broadcasting newbie.

Born in Kingston-upon-Thames to a micro-biologist and care worker, Amfo reveals that she’s always been a big radio lover.

“I just grew up loving radio.

“Some people would probably say I’m a radio dork,” Amfo laughs.

“My earliest memories of radio, are listening to loads of different stations in the car with my dad and we would listen to everything – Heart, Kiss, Capital – all the mainstream stations.”


GIRLS TIME: The radio presenter with US rapper Nicki Minaj

Before joining the 1Xtra team, the 28-year-old was at Kiss FM, where she worked her way up from a marketing intern to the co-host of the drive time show.

“It was difficult to leave. I love my Kiss family, they’re like my OG.

“But the BBC, as a broadcaster, it’s the pinnacle. I couldn’t say no,” she explains.

Amfo also previously voiced the Official Top 40 chart on MTV. And now the bubbly presenter is “honoured” to add the BBC Official Chart Show to her bursting resume. “If you’re looking at the UK in pop-culture terms, it’s iconic.”

Despite, not having the stereotypical ‘face for radio’, Amfo explains that television work has never really been of interest to her.

“TV could be an option in the future, but radio is absolutely my first love.

“I think the beautiful thing about radio is that you can broadcast to millions of people and then step out on the street, and no one knows you.”

She adds: “I think I quite like the security of that, where I can just go about my business.”


TEAM UK: Amfo with UK rapper Tinie Tempah

The music lover, who will continue to host her weekend breakfast show on 1Xtra, studied media arts with professional creative writing at university – a course her Ghanaian parents weren’t exactly keen on.

“My dad is probably my favourite person in the whole world.

“[He] is really academic - he’s a retired scientist. And his whole thing was ‘education, education, education’. That was his magic phrase,” Amfo remembers.

“But with my family, we’re all pretty creative, so I think there’s a little part of him that is probably a bit gutted that we weren’t all chemists or dentists or whatever.”

“I’m sure if I was tell him that I’m going to pack in all this radio business, re-train, and become a chemist, he’ll be jumping for joy,” she laughs.

Clara Amfo presents The Official Chart on BBC Radio 1 on Sundays, 4-7pm

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