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Asa: The Multicultural Songstress Redefining Music Boundaries

Asa, the Nigerian-French singer-songwriter, has been making waves in the music industry with her unique blend of soul, folk, and African rhythms. With her latest release, V (five), she continues to push the boundaries of music, exploring themes of love, identity, and social justice.

Born Bukola Elemide, Asa adopted her stage name due to her curiosity-fueled childhood wanderings from home, much to her mother’s emotional panic. An old man from the neighborhood baptized her Asa, or “Hawk” in Yoruba, a name that resonates with her persona as an eccentric maverick.

Asa sat down with GQ to discuss her musical odyssey, her artistry, and making multi-genre music that transcends boundaries and resonates with audiences worldwide. 

“From a very early age, I knew that music was my calling, and I was to pursue a career in it,” she said. “Music was a constant presence in our house – my father, a cinematographer, owned a diverse collection of vinyl records. My siblings and I were part of the church choir growing up. Of all the things I could pursue, music resonated with me the most.”

Asa’s music is a testament to her innovative spirit and dedication to her craft. She has released five studio albums, winning numerous awards and accolades along the way. Her music seamlessly blends English and Yoruba lyrics, conveying messages that resonate with audiences worldwide.

Asa’s Nigerian and French heritage significantly influences her musical style, keeping her authentically African while opening a portal to the rest of the world. 

“I always allow for that space when I’m making music. I want to create music with everyone in mind, including those who may not know or understand my language or culture. But I always strive to include them. I’m from Nigeria; I want to act locally but think globally in my approach with music,” she said.

Regarding her process for writing music, Asa emphasizes that while it’s a solitary pursuit, she occasionally collaborates. Most of the time, she composes the songs herself, starting with the chords and then adding the melody. She describes crafting the melodies as “doodles,” shaping them into a song before adding lyrics. The doodles guide the direction of the song.

Asa’s introspective lyrics explore themes of love and identity, as well as societal issues. Her profound and authentic songwriting strikes a chord with listeners, solidifying her reputation as a captivating storyteller through her music. 

“Many of my songs stem from imagination and shared stories. I would imagine scenarios, and convey them through my music…” she said.

With her soulful voice and genre-bending sound, Asa is redefining music boundaries and inspiring a new generation of artists.

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