Asa: The Artistry Journey of Nigeria’s Soul Diva

BY Dora Dzaka October 11, 2023 7:59 PM EDT
Photo Credit: Facebook @Asa Official

Bukola Elemide, better known by her stage name Asa, is a French-Nigerian singer-songwriter and musician. She is well known for the uplifting guitar songs she writes. Her music is a fusion of jazz, indie, and pop.

On September 17, 1982, Asa was born in Sign Virgo, Paris. Her parents were pursuing cinematography studies in France at the time of her birth. Elemide is the only female in the family with three brothers. She was raised in Lagos State when her family moved to Nigeria. She was two years old at the time. She went back to Paris and started her singing career after 18 years. Elemide studied music at Peter King’s School of Music, where she spent six months mastering the guitar.

Asa returned to France at the age of 20 to enroll in the IMFP School of Jazz Music. She was shocked when her teachers advised her to keep recording because she was competent and did not need to go to school.

The award-winning vocalist got her start in music by listening to her father’s music collection while he was a cameraman. The compilation featured songs by Fela Kuti, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, King Sunny Ade, Miriam Makeba, Diana Ross, and Nina Simone.

Albums released

The Album ‘Asa’

A significant turning point for Asa came with the 2007 release of the album Asa. She topped music charts in Europe, Asia, and Africa with her work. In addition, a committee of 19 music business experts in Paris selected the record as the finest new talent among ten singers.

Live in Paris

Live In Paris was the name of Asa’s subsequent album, which was published in 2009. She performed a number of songs from the album including “Subway,” “Fire on the Mountain,” “Awe,” “Bibanke,” “360 Degree,” “Jailer,” “So Beautiful,” “Feeling Good,” “Speech,” “Lya,” “No one knows,” and “Eye Adaba.”

Beautiful Imperfection

On October 25, 2010, Asa released her third album, Beautiful Imperfection. To create the record, she worked with French composer Nicholas Mollard.

Bed of Stone

Bed of Stone, Asa’s latest studio album, was released in August 2014. Four singles from the album were released: “Dead Again,” “Eyo,” “Satan Be Gone,” “The One That Never Comes,” and “Moving On.” Prior to the publication of “Bed of Stone,” Asa had reportedly sold 400,000 albums globally.

The Beginning

On May 14, 2019, Asa returned to the music industry after a five-year absence with the release of the pop hit “The Beginning.” Asa suggested that we all return to the beginning when everything was much better and happier.

Asa’s songs stood apart from the prevalent Nigerian sound at the time. She has done it all and experimented with sounds including jazz, neo-soul, R&B, Afropop, and many more genres.

It took some time for people to accept her unique style of music because it was ahead of its time, but her talent and perseverance helped her breakthrough into the Nigerian music scene.

Despite the fact that these assessments of Asa’s sound may be correct, her music defies genre classification.