Home Profile in Excellence Aṣa – Nigerian Pop Jazz Maestro

Aṣa – Nigerian Pop Jazz Maestro

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Aṣa (pronounced [/a∫a]) is a Nigerian French singer, songwriter, and recording artist. Her stage name “Aṣa” is pronounced “Asha” in Yoruba.

Early life

Aṣa was born in Paris to Nigerian parents who where working and studying cinematography in France. Her family returned to live in Nigeria when she was two. Aṣa grew up in Lagos city, in the south-western part of Nigeria, and 18 years later, returned to Paris, where her life as an artist took off.

Background

Aṣa’s music influences grew over the years from the collection of great music her father had built up for his work as a cinematographer. These records featuring American, Nigerian and African soul classics, included musical greats such as Marvin Gaye, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, King Sunny Adé, Diana Ross, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba… Asa went on to draw inspiration from them.

In 2004 Aṣa met her manager and friend, Janet Nwose, who introduced her to Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo, who in turn became the producer of her first studio album Asa (Asha).

Asa returned to France at the age of 20 to study at the IMFP school of Jazz music, where she was told by teachers that she should go ahead and become a recording artist because she was ready and needed no schooling. Back in Nigeria, her first single, “Eyé Adaba,” was beginning to get airplay. Aṣa soon signed to Naïve Records. Partnered with Cobhams, and with the new involvement of Christophe Dupouy and Benjamin Constant, she produced her first platinum selling self-titled album, Aṣa. The release of the album saw Aṣa charting radios across Europe, Asia and Africa and went on win the prestigious French Constantin Award in 2008, where she was voted best fresh talent of 10 singers or groups by a jury of 19 music-industry specialists in Paris.

Her second album, Beautiful Imperfection, was released on 25 October 2010, went platinum in 2011. The lead single from Beautiful Imperfection is titled “Be My Man” was released in late September 2010.

Asa’s third studio album, Bed of Stone, was released in August 2014. The lead singles are “Dead Again”, “Eyo”, “Satan Be Gone” and “The One That Never Comes”. She went on a world tour from 2015 to 2017.

Discography

Albums

Year Album Chart positions
FRA
BEL ESP
SUI
US
Heat
World
2007 Aṣa (Asha) 15 81 65 32 3
2009 Live in Paris 112
2010 Beautiful Imperfection 14 35 61 54 3
2014 Bed of Stone 38 80 64

In 2014, it was reported that before the release of Bed of Stone, Asa sold 400,000 albums worldwide.[8]

Singles

Year Title FRA
BEL
Album
2009 “Fire on the Mountain” Aṣa (Asha)
“Jailer”
2010 “Be My Man” 89 76 Beautiful Imperfection
2011 “Why Can’t We” 94
2012 “The Way I Feel”
“Ba Mi Dele” Beautiful Imperfection (re-release)
2014 “Dead Again” 109 Bed of Stone
2015 “Eyo”

Soundtrack appearances

  • 2007: “Kokoya” – on the soundtrack to the film The First Cry
  • 2011: ” Zarafa” – soundtrack for the animation movie Zarafa

Awards and nominations

  • 2008: Prix Constantin
  • 2011: French Music Awards Victoires de la Musique nomination for “Female Artist of the Year”.
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