Aṣa is a Nigerian-French singer, songwriter, and recording artiste. She is well known for her intricate yet appealing style of music, with melodious songs usually accompanied by the Guitar.
Born in Paris, France on the 17th day of September 1982, Aṣa is the only female child of her parents, amongst 3 brothers. Her birth name is Bukola Elemide and at the time of her birth, her parents were studying cinematography in Paris. She returned with her parents to Nigeria when she was two where she grew up in FESTAC. On her family’s return to Nigeria, her mother became a shopkeeper and her father shot video reports for weddings.
Aṣa had to deal with the harsh reality of life when her parents got divorced and though it was a huge blow to her mental health, she believes it came with unique blessings. The name ‘Aṣa’ was a Yoruba nickname given to her at a young age and it means ‘Hawk’. Asa spent most of her formative years in the city of Jos, Plateau State, before returning to Lagos at the age of 18.
Asa’s mother enrolled her in the prestigious Corona High School Lagos and she went further to Federal Government College Jos. Later, she attended Lagos State University and was enrolled in the Department of Theatre Arts and Music. She got admission to study as a diploma student which required her spending about 2 years, but Aṣa spent only about 6 months and then left because it was clashing with her professional musical lessons at the renowned musicologist, Peter King’s Music School in Badagry, where she majored in Guitar studies for a year.
Aṣa had lots of musical influences from her father’s music collection, which he had built up for cinematography work. These records featured American, Nigerian, and African soul classics that included musical greats such as Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Miriam Makeba, Diana Ross, Fel Kuti, King Sunny Adé. Aṣa went on to draw lots of inspiration from them.
Aṣa attended the Peter King College of Music, where she studied for a year, learning to play the Guitar. In 2004, she met Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo, a songwriter and producer through her manager and good friend, Janet Nwose. Cobhams later became the producer of her debut studio album ‘Asa’ (Asha). At the age of 20, she went back to France to study at the IMFP School of Jazz, only to be told by her teachers that she was good enough and could proceed with her career immediately. Encouraged by this, Aṣa recorded her first single in Nigeria, ‘Eye Adaba’, which gained massive airplay.
Eye Adaba means ‘dove’ and is a sombre song full of hope, prayers, and a cry for peace in the country. Before long, the song gained world-wide acceptance and applause. She got signed to Naïve Records and partnered with Cobhams Asuquo, Christophe Dupouy and Benjamin Constant in 2007 to produce her debut platinum-selling self-titled album, Aṣa. The album was a huge success and charted radios across Asia, Europe, and Africa and went on to win the prestigious French Constantin Award in 2008, when she was voted the best new talent of 10 singers by a jury of musicians in Paris.
LIVE IN PARIS
In 2009, Aṣa released a live album titled ‘Live in Paris’. The album is a compilation of her live performances and includes ‘Bibanke’, ‘Fire on the Mountain’, ‘Lya’, ‘Subway’, ‘360 degree’, ‘Eye Adaba, ‘So Beautiful’, ‘Feeling Good’, ‘Speech’, ‘Awe’, ‘No one knows’ and ‘Jailer’.
On the 25th of October 2010, Aṣa released her second studio album in collaboration with French composer Nicolas Mollard. ‘Be my man’, the lead single from the album, was released in late September 2010 and became quite popular. The album went platinum in 2011 and Aṣa reportedly sold out 400,000 albums as of 2014.
BED OF STONE
Her third studio album, ‘Bed of Stone’, was released in August 2014 containing 4 singles: ‘Dead Again’, ‘Eyo’, ‘Satan Be Gone’, ‘The One That Never Comes’ and ‘Moving On’. She teamed up with Blair MacKichan, who co-wrote and produced the album. Also, she went on a world tour from 2015-2017, touching down at music capitals like France and Germany.
On 14 May 2019, after a 5-year absence, Aṣa released a new pop single titled “The Beginning” and on 25 June 2019 she released the single “Good Thing”. On the 11th day of September 2019, she announced on her Twitter page that her new album, Lucid, will be released on 11 October 2019.
In an interview in 2020, Aṣa revealed that she is still single because she became selfish with herself and her time and that anyone who wants to be with her would have to understand that. Aṣa likes to keep her private life hidden as much as possible. There had been rumours of her sexual orientation, but she debunked them stating categorically that she is not a lesbian and went on to sue the media company for libel that stated she was a lesbian.
In another interview, she said that Angélique Kidjo was her mentor. Also, as of 2019, her estimated net worth was $1.5m.
2007: “Kokoya” – on the soundtrack to the film The First Cry
2009: “The Place To Be” – soundtrack for GTBank
2011: “Zarafa” – soundtrack for the animation movie Zarafa
2008: Prix Constantin
2011: French Music Awards Victoires de la Musique nomination for “Female Artist of the Year”.
“We will not put an end to extreme poverty if we do not give priority to education especially, girls’ education.”
“Universal quality education is one of the best antidotes to poverty”
“You don’t have to wait till you feel the pain. You can start right now. It’s not too late to be grateful.”
“When you just can’t see the future, when you just can’t see the light, you always got to put on a fight.”