Asa's beautiful imperfectionBy AR Writer | Thursday, August 16 2012 at 12:57
Asa (pronounced 'Asha'), born Bukola Elemide, is the Nigerian singer whose music caused a stir with the release of her sophomore album 'Beautiful Imperfection'.
Born in Paris, she lived there until she was two years old. Her story, however, begins in Lagos. At the age of two, her parents moved back to Nigeria.
Inspired by the sounds of artistes such as Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey she began to sing at a very young age. Both her parents were working so she would sing during their absence. She reportedly preferred singing to talking much to the chagrin of her mother who asked her to stop.
In an interview with French cultural magazine Mondomix, she says, "For as long as I can remember I always dreamed about being a musician. I used to pretend to sing to the millions of fans at my feet, screaming my name. I would throw them kisses. My brothers used to make fun of me. I was just their crazy little sister and no-one took me seriously."
Her music is lauded and critically acclaimed in most part because of the uniqueness and originality it presents in a world where contemporary music is so commercially driven that it lacks substance.
Her unmistakeable sound, a blend of reggae, jazz, folk and soul is unique as if it were her very own signature. Of her, BBC Music said "This Nigerian singer-songwriter might actually be a twenty-first century Bob Marley."
She in her own opinion is not a commercial product, not a sex kitten. She sings in pidgin, English and her native Yoruba, her music an eclectic fusion of the African sound and western soul.
Beautiful Imperfection caused waves in Africa and the diaspora. Her most popular and politically motivated track 'fire on the mountain' touched on sensitive subjects such as war and incest in Africa. The fire is a metaphor for trouble. It's in the conflicts neglected because there is no oil at stake, in the paedophiles and in the everyday bizarre things we hear about that makes us wonder where the world is headed, she says.
She doesn't just aim to transmit positive energy and values, she also wants the negative and the things that hurt to be said out loud, not whispered. Jailer, yet another gem in her second album is laden with meaning, metaphoric of neo-slavery. Perhaps a message about Africa's relationship with the West?
She says her first album, Asha, "reflected my state of mind then…I had a lot to talk about – social and political issues. This time, I felt different: I wanted to create something that would help people come out of sad moods and feel uplifted.”
“I want my music to touch people. As an African, I want to give hope back to my people, but also to speak in their name. I want to show the world that something beautiful and positive can come out of the black continent and inspire young people all over the world.”
Described by some as the African Tracy Chapman, she has already opened for big name artistes like John Legend and Beyonce. The way she sees it, her star can only get brighter. She seems set to be among one of the continent's greats like Angelique Kidjo and Youssou N'Dour.
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