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Aṣa

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Aṣa (pronounced "Asha" is a Nigerian French singer-songwriter, and recording artist. Her stage name "Aṣa" means "Hawk" in Yoruba. 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. 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 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!". She also performed with Féfé at the Sydney Festival in 2011. The songs on her new album Bed of Stone say much more than the emotions of Bukola Elemide, known as Asa. Her songs say a lot about our melancholy, our dreams, our thoughts and our reflections. It almost feels like they’ve have been part of our lives even before Asa wrote and sang them. Actually, they were born from her life and the shock she felt coming off the road in 2012, after an incredibly long tour. “I needed time to pull myself together. I toured for 2 years, gave everything I had every single night. I had been the girl that was full of life, force and energy that people looked at for 2 hours on stage, and then congratulated backstage after the show. But I was going home alone, never really realizing how exhausting all that actually is…” The tour that followed the release of Beautiful Imperfection was grueling, but it was, it must be said, preceded by a well-received first album in 2007 and was awarded the Prix Constatntin. There were also well over 100 shows and the Live in Paris album…a dream-come-true journey for a spectacular new artist that keeps on breaking new ground. Asa is Nigerian but was born in Paris. She became an artist in Lagos, fueled on old-school Soul, and was signed by a French label. She’s clearly one of the most exciting artists to have emerged in the last decade. She’s highly in-demand by festivals across the world and radios (with taste!) are giving her a special place on their playlists. She’s a whirlwind, she’s happiness, and she is a craze. After her last tour, she just couldn’t stay home, so she traveled and she wrote. Lagos, Berlin, the USA, London, Paris… » I wanted to feel human again. Meet new people and do everything I always wanted to do before I hit 30. I wanted to learn to swim, rent a car and drive from Nashville to New York and from New York to Los Angeles and I wanted to learn to skateboard and drive a motorcycle ». While doing this, she wrote new songs. The recording took place in various locations after the originally intended producer didn’t work out in Los Angeles. She left for Hastings in East Sussex to work with Blair MacKichan, a musician and actor who had worked with Will Young and Lilly Allen. With a nearly finished album, she wanted to reconnect with Benjamin Constant who had arranged her first 2 studio albums and she wanted to meet new musicians and feel new emotions. » I wanted to be the « old lady » that falls from a skateboard with kids all around her, go full throttle on a motorcycle for the first time in my life. These experiences didn’t necessarily make it into my songs, but they served a purpose. It’s all there! » Asa’s life is part of her songs as much as our life is part of her songs. The inexhaustible subject that is love, the spiritual calling, the need to party or to simply share a cup of tea with 2 friends…and there’s Dead Again, the first single, written in 2 hours with Blair MacKichan, based on a close friend’s treason that angered Asa. Love Found Me is a song about having to stop looking for love because it found you, a premonitory song written shortly before the start of the recording. Grateful is a beautiful hymn of grace beyond any religious considerations that invites to look to the maker. Then there’s Satan Be Gone, based on a New Orleans rhythm, speaking of the battles against the horned one, alcohol and hate. Eyo, written in Paris and borrowing a melody for the Masks Parade in Lagos, a place where the streets know how to smile. All that says the talented Asa, and the road that she traveled. « I’ve matured,” says the soon to be 32 year-old artist, in total control of her art and her emotions. The energy, the weakness, the jubilation, the despair…A glorious summit!