The story of culturally conscious singer-songwriter Asa (pronounced Ah-shah) begins in Lagos, Nigera where she found a home in her father's extensive and eclectic collection of records that ran the gamut from soul classics to traditional Nigerian music. Starting to sing at a young age, Asa was inspired by the sounds and messages of artists such as Marvin Gaye, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey who served as touchstones when she later began crafting her own songs. It wasn't until she was studying in Paris that she truly formed her musical style, immersing herself in the songs of her musical contemporaries - Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, Rafael Saadiq, Lauryn Hill and Angelique Kidjo. The debut paints a vivid landscape rich in history and deep in its influences. Born in Paris but transplanted to Nigeria where she would spend the remainder of her childhood and adolescence, Asa returned to her birthplace in 2004 and immersed herself in the music of the city. The result is a collection of provocative and savvy songs that are as strikingly personal as they are collectively universal. The debut, simply titled Asa, was released on Downtown Records' new imprint Mercer St. Records in early 2009, and quickly rose to #1 on iTunes' World Chart.
During a 6-week period in Lagos in 2007, Asa went into the studio with Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo, a well known Nigerian blind multi-instrumentalist, to record the album. Asa returned to Paris to test her talent and new songs on the French music scene. Meanwhile, her first singles started getting airplay in Nigeria. By the time she returned home, MTV had chosen her as the ambassador for South Africa and she was opening for Akon, John Legend, Beyonce and Snoop Dogg, amongst others. With reggae, soul, jazz and pop music as touchstones, Asa crafts protest music that calls not only for change in society as a whole, but for personal change. Featuring impeccable percussion, a funky Hammond organ, reggae-infused bass and contributions from celebrity flautist Magic Malik, Asa's debut album is an impressive collection of melodic songs. "Jailer" - a song about the irony of oppression - is a standout, while "Fire In The Mountain" is perhaps one of the most candid and politically charged songs on the album - a reggae and folk infused metaphor for an ignorant and indifferent world commenting on the conflicts we neglect and the disparity on our doorstep that goes unnoticed.
It seems there is no better time for Asa to take her place on the world stage. Stirring, captivating, uplifting, beautiful, infectious, and thought provoking, Asa's debut is an inspired collection worthy of a position along side the greats in her father's record collection that sparked Asa journey into music.
Fire On The Mountain
No One Knows
"Sounds like a gathering of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff reggae, Erykah Badu phrasings, Joan Armatrading and Suzanne Vega acoustic guitar strumming, and Tracy Chapman lyrical sensibilities, the album Asa immediately grabs you" — Huffington Post