The cover of Asa’s self-titled debut CD says more than a thousand words could. It’s a vibrant photograph of a girl with a passionate love of life. By the time you have opened the album and listened to her songs the whole picture is slowly revealed.
You feel her intensity, her vulnerability, her social conscience, her spirituality, her awareness, her clear world view, and her need to bring all of this to our attention through her music.
She achieves this with a set of songs that can deeply move and inspire, whilst making you face up to some uncomfortable, and sadly, all too relevant issues. If I was to end there and not write another word I would be happy with that statement. You see, that word, ‘relevant’, perfectly captures the very substance of Asa’s place in music in just three syllables.
Her songs successfully bridge whatever gaps may exist between cool, provocative, and worldly wise. She can be political, she can challenge, and yet she can be tender and insightful. She goes down all these paths with an honest strength, unblinking belief, passionate believability, and an all important sensitivity. She has an authority that allows her, as a new artist releasing her first album, to venture into some difficult places.
Asa, pronounced Ah-Sha, was born in Paris, France. When she was very young her family moved to Lagos in Nigeria. By the time she returned to the city of her birth she had absorbed the influences of the music of Africa. Combine this with what she then heard in France and you have a culturally rich and heady mix of styles.
Lagos is a vibrant city, full of life, the good, the bad, and the downright wrong. It has a deep lying spirituality. Islam co-exists alongside Christianity in a respectful balance. That balance also extends through fun and violence, wealth and poverty, and love and hatred.
It is relevant in the music world where Asa quickly made her name. She says, "Lagos is the New York of Nigeria. If you want to get anywhere in music, that’s where you’ll find the best opportunities, as well as the worst pitfalls". She grew up listening to the likes of Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Sunny Ade, and Fela Kuti.