Featured, Self Help

The Iconic Asa

Nmesoma Okwudili


May 12, 2024

Renowned for her iconic dreadlocks and accompanied by her faithful guitar, Aṣa has garnered widespread recognition both locally and globally. Her musical repertoire transcends boundaries, seamlessly blending Jazz, Pop, and Indie Rock into her distinctive sound.

Born in Paris to Nigerian parents involved in cinematography, Aṣa spent her early years immersed in the vibrant cultural tapestry of France. However, at the tender age of two, her family returned to their roots in Nigeria, specifically to Lagos in the southwestern region. Raised in this bustling metropolis, Aṣa’s formative years were imbued with the rich rhythms and melodies of her homeland. It was here that her deep connection with music began to take shape.

At the age of 18, Aṣa returned to Paris, where her destiny as an artist unfolded. During this pivotal time, she honed her craft and carved out her unique musical identity.

Aṣa’s musical lineage traces back to her father’s eclectic record collection, curated meticulously for his work as a cinematographer. This treasure trove of vinyl encompassed an eclectic mix of American, Nigerian, and African soul classics. Artists like Marvin Gaye, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, King Sunny Adé, Diana Ross, Nina Simone, and Miriam Makeba became her sonic companions, shaping her artistic sensibilities and igniting her creative spark. Drawing inspiration from this diverse array of musical luminaries, Aṣa embarked on a journey to craft her own musical narrative, infused with the essence of her upbringing and the myriad influences that had shaped her musical palette.

In 2004, Aṣa’s fateful encounter with her manager and close friend, Janet Nwose, marked the beginning of a transformative journey. Through Janet’s introduction, Aṣa met Cobhams Asuquo, who would soon become the guiding force behind her debut studio album, “Aṣa” (also known as “Asha”).

At the age of 20, Aṣa made a pivotal decision to return to France to pursue her passion for jazz music at the IMFP school. Despite being urged by her instructors to embark on her recording career immediately due to her undeniable talent, Aṣa remained steadfast in her commitment to honing her craft. Meanwhile, back in Nigeria, her debut single, “Eyé Adaba,” began to make waves on the airwaves, setting the stage for her meteoric rise.

With her sights set on international acclaim, Aṣa inked a deal with Naïve Records, setting the stage for a collaboration that would redefine the musical landscape. Teaming up with Cobhams Asuquo and including the new additions of Christophe Dupouy and Benjamin Constant, Aṣa embarked on the creation of her eponymous debut album. The result was nothing short of remarkable, with “Aṣa” achieving significant success and captivating audiences across Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The album’s widespread success culminated in Aṣa being honored with the prestigious French Constantin Award in 2008, a testament to her status as a trailblazing talent. Voted as the best new talent by a distinguished panel of 19 music industry experts in Paris, Aṣa’s win solidified her position as a formidable force in the global music scene.

Following the resounding success of her debut album, Aṣa continued to captivate audiences with her sophomore effort, “Beautiful Imperfection,” produced by the French composer Nicolas Mollard. Released on 25 October 2010, the album swiftly achieved platinum status by 2011. Its lead single, “Be My Man,” debuted in late September 2010, marking the beginning of yet another chapter in Aṣa’s musical journey. By 2014, Aṣa’s global album sales had surpassed an impressive 400,000 units, solidifying her position as a bona fide musical sensation.

Undeterred by her earlier triumphs, Aṣa ventured into new territory with the release of her third studio album, “Bed of Stone,” in August 2014. Featuring hit singles such as “Dead Again,” “Eyo,” “Satan Be Gone,” “The One That Never Comes,” and “Moving On,” the album showcased Aṣa’s evolving artistry and garnered widespread acclaim from fans and critics alike. Embarking on a world tour from 2015 to 2016, Aṣa solidified her status as a global icon, captivating audiences with her soul-stirring performances and undeniable charisma.

Continuing her musical evolution, Aṣa delighted fans with a series of new releases in 2019. On 14 May 2019, she unveiled the mesmerizing single “The Beginning,” followed by the enchanting track “Good Thing” on 25 June 2019. Building anticipation for her next project, Aṣa took to social media on 11 September 2019 to announce the upcoming release of her highly anticipated album, “Lucid,” which debuted on 11 October 2019 to critical acclaim.

Underscoring her versatility and enduring appeal, Aṣa unveiled yet another musical gem on 25 February 2022, titled “V.” Featuring collaborations with acclaimed artists such as Wizkid, the Nigerian highlife duo The Cavemen, and Ghanaian sensation Amaarae, “V” further solidified Aṣa’s status as an iconic figure in the global music landscape, captivating audiences with her unparalleled talent and boundless creativity.

Having shared the stage with musical titans such as Beyoncé, Snoop Dogg, Akon, and John Legend, Aṣa’s journey to global acclaim has been nothing short of extraordinary. Yet, amidst the glitz and glamour of the international spotlight, it is her roots in Nigeria and her connection to Africa that serve as the cornerstone of her artistic vision.

Reflecting on her profound connection to her homeland, Aṣa emphasizes, “I’m proud to be Nigerian, and I also hope other Nigerians feel proud that they have a great country.” For her, Nigeria’s vibrant culture and rich heritage serve as boundless sources of inspiration, fueling her creative endeavors and shaping her musical identity.

However, Aṣa acknowledges the challenges and stereotypes that often overshadow Nigeria’s positive contributions to the world stage. “People have preconceptions of Nigeria… so for other Nigerians, we need to know that we cannot hide. We need to defend, and how do we defend? We need to be good at whatever we do,” she asserts. This statement highlights the importance of excellence and resilience in overcoming misconceptions and representing Nigeria with pride.

In the world of African music, Aṣa stands as a shining example of the continent’s immense talent and cultural richness. With her unwavering commitment to authenticity and unparalleled artistry, she joins a legacy of African artists who have transcended borders and captivated audiences worldwide, leaving an indelible mark on the global music landscape.


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