Asa, a Yoruba word, means Hawk. One needs to wonder why she chose such an animal symbolizing strength, she really is a person of strength and willpower. Born in Paris as Bukola Elemide in the 80s. It really is no surprise that she had always been a singing bird right from childhood, though she had a fair share of discouragement concerning not having a good enough singing voice, yet she persevered. Her parents moved back to Lagos, Nigeria when she was just 2. She defied her father’s desire for her to be a lawyer and opted for music and the life of an artiste instead. At 18, she travelled back to Paris where she studied at the IMFP School of Jazz.
She started recording in 2004 when she met Jan Nwose, her soon-to-be manager. Asa stepped into the music scene at a time when Afrobeats were about catchy choruses and jamboree beats, she infused a soulful, ballad and forlorn sound into the Nigerian music scene and she became an instant hit. Always laced with Yoruba adages, it mixed the modern jazz sound with Yoruba folklore and storytelling. She cites Fela Kuti, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, King Sunny Ade as her influences. Her first single Eye Adaba was a hit and got her signed to Naïve Records.
Asa no doubt has this air around her that makes you feel relaxed and at peace. Could it be her locked hair which has been her signature look ever since she broke into the limelight? or the fact that she has been known to smoke cannabis which amongst its benefits, makes the smoker calmer?
One distinctive thing about Asa’s music is that there seems to be no one else like her in her own genre and she has remained true to her craft never deviating in sound or the content of her music.
If Asa isn’t singing about love, you would most definitely find her singing about the social, economic and political atmosphere of Nigeria. She is definitely a conscious musician as songs such as “Fire on the Mountain” and “Jailer” are replete with metaphors and allusions to the Nigerian situation.
Asa has 4 studio albums to her name, Asa released in 2007, Beautiful Imperfection in 2010, Bed of Stone in 2014 and Lucid in 2019. She always has a live studio album released in 2017. Her collaboration with Cobhams Asuquo made her journey to stardom resplendent as he produced and directed some of her songs such as Jailer and Fire on the Mountain.
There have been rumours that she is a Lesbian though this has largely been unconfirmed. However, what we do know about Asa is that she opened up about losing her virginity at the age of 28, attributing it to being busy with music and shy.
One other thing we do know is that Asa has carved a niche for herself in the Nigerian Music industry and her music stands the test of time, hence classic.
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