Aṣa

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Aṣa
Asa by Nicolas Esposito.jpg
Background information
Birth name Bukola Elemide
Born (1982-09-17) 17 September 1982 (age 32)
Paris, France
Genres Pop, jazz, indie pop
Instruments Vocals, Guitar, Trumpet
Labels Naive, BMG
Website www.asa-official.com

Aṣa (pronounced "Asha"; born 17 September 1982)[1] is a Nigerian French singer-songwriter, and recording artist. Her stage name "Aṣa" means "Hawk" in Yoruba.

Early life[edit]

Born Bukola Elemide, Aṣa was born in Paris, France to her Nigerian parents. Her family returned to live in Nigeria when she was two. Aṣa grew up in Alagbole, a border town in Ogun state near Lagos, in the south-western part of Nigeria.

She states that the city is "buzzing with energy but also home to a deep-rooted spirituality. Christianity thrives shoulder to shoulder with Islam in an atmosphere of tolerance, and the turbulent city moves endlessly in an infernal and yet harmonious ballet of love and hate, laughter and violence, poverty and wealth".[citation needed] Twenty years later, Aṣa returned to Paris where her life as an artist took off.

Whenever Asa came home from school in Nigeria, she discovered musical acts like Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, Raphael Saadiq, Lauryn Hill, Femi Kuti and Angélique Kidjo. This was while she was in pursuit of educational excellence, and these musical acts are whose footprints she dreamed of following.

Background[edit]

Aṣa was the only female child in the family and had three brothers. At a tender age she began to look after the house during her parents' frequent absences. This is when Aṣa started to sing.

The desire to sing came to her and did not go away, carving out a permanent place in her soul. She preferred singing to talking, improvising endlessly until her mother made her stop. Over the years her father had built up a fine collection of records featuring soul classics and Nigerian music, including Marvin Gaye, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, King Sunny Adé, Ebenezer Obey and Lagbaja and Asa went on to draw inspiration from them. Aṣa said "I was a tomboy and when I was a teenager and I became very shy because people made fun of me ... in my own way, I was already attracting attention! I got in the habit of never doing anything like everyone else. People didn't understand my low-pitched deep voice, the choirs didn't want anything to do with me. I had to get to church first if I was to have any chance of getting near the mic".[citation needed]

In 2004 Aṣa met her manager and friend, Janet, who introduced her to Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo, who in turn became her musical partner and producer. He enabled Aṣa, the free spirit, to find her bearings: songs in English and Yoruba, music falling somewhere between pop and soul, inspired by her musical heritage – with particular care paid to the melodies – and reflecting the feeling she puts into it. Her texts talk about her country and the things in her life, all delivered with feigned naïveté and real irony. She states "I like writing or thinking about my texts on the bus, or the molué, as we call it. 49 seats, 99 passengers standing up, as Fela described it. Everyone's squashed up together and mini-dramas break out all the time. And, at the end of the day, we still manage to laugh, that's where our strength lies...".[citation needed]

At this stage of her life, Aṣa finally returned to Paris. This was her chance to test out her talent on the French musical scene, playing with other artists. In the meantime, back in Nigeria, her first single, "Eyé Adaba," then "Jailer," were beginning to get airtime. Aṣa soon signed to Naïve Records. Partnered with Cobhams, and with the new involvement of Christophe Dupouy, she produced her first album, Aṣa. The release of the album saw Aṣa win the prestigious French Constantin Award in 2008, where she was voted best fresh talent of 10 singers or groups by a jury of 19 music-industry specialists in Paris.

Her second album, Beautiful Imperfection, was released on 25 October 2010. The lead single from Beautiful Imperfection is titled "Be My Man" and was released in late September. A video[2] for the song was released in mid-October. Speaking in January 2011 to noted UK soul writer Pete Lewis – Assistant Editor of Blues & Soul – about her second album, Asa stated: "'Beautiful Imperfection' basically represents the way I see life. The name actually came about from an interview I did about a year ago. I was asked to describe my life. And my reply was 'Well, its really beautiful- but at the same time it's IMPERFECT!... And what I realised from that is that I actually LIKE the imperfection! I like the little surprises that life gives you because I feel it HUMBLES you and makes you THINK!".[3] She also performed with Féfé at the Sydney Festival in 2011[4]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album Chart positions[5]
FRA BEL ESP SUI
2007 Aṣa (Asha) 15 81 - 65
2009 Live in Paris 112 - - -
2010 Beautiful Imperfection 14 35 61 54
2014 Bed of Stone 38 80 - 64

In 2014, it was reported that before the release of Bed of Stone, Asa sold 400,000 albums world wide

Singles[edit]

Year Title FRA BEL Album
2009 "Fire in the Mountain" - - Aṣa (Asha)
"Jailer" - -
2010 "Be My Man" 89 26 Beautiful Imperfection
2011 "Why Can't We" - 44
2012 "The Way I Feel" - -
"Ba Mi Dele" - - Beautiful Imperfection (re-release)
2014 "Dead Again" 109 - Bed of Stone

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

  • 2007: "Kokoya" - on the soundtrack to the film The First Cry

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Asa: Biographie". TV5Monde. Paris, France: TV5Monde. Retrieved 28 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Asa (Asha) – " Be My Man"". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2 May 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  3. ^ "Asa interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' April 2011". Bluesandsoul.com. Retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Victoria Hannaford (29 December 2011). "French hip-hop artist Fefe teams up with Nigerian-French singer Asa for Sydney Festival". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Asa – Music Charts". Acharts.us. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 

External links[edit]