Asa Biography: Bukola Elemide, known by her stage name Asa (pronounced Asha), is a Nigerian-French singer, songwriter and performer. The pop and jazz musician also sings indie-pop style as well. Asa is one of the most revered musicians in Nigerian because her style is unique and gives music enthusiasts something different to listen to as opposed to the mainstream songs.
Before delving deeper into the biography of Asa, we provide 10 facts about this impressive entertainer. Her albums have done well beyond the boundaries of countries like Nigeria and France where are fans are more concentrated.
10 facts about Asa
- Asa’s full name is Bukola Elemide and she was born on 17th September 1982 in France to Nigerian parents from Ogun State
- Although Asa is Yoruba and grew up in Lagos, she does not speak the language fluently
- Asa dropped out of the Lagos State University to learn how to play the guitar properly
- Asa’s first studio album, The Captivator, is largely unknown and does not appear in the official list of her body of works
- She won Prix Constantin (2008) and French Music Awards Victoires de la Musique nomination for “Female Artist of the Year” (2011).
- Cobhams Asuquwo was Asa’s first producer.
- Asa’s self-titled studio, Asa, sold 400,000 copies worldwide.
- Three of Asa’s official studio albums made a least one European country’s official music ranking chart, while two of her albums – Asa and beautiful Imperfection – each debuted at No 3 in World Music ranking chart.
- Bukola Elemide explains that her stage name Asa means Hawk as opposed to Culture that another pronunciation of it could mean.
- In addition to stringing the guitar, Asa also blows the trumpet.
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Asa age and early life
How old is Asa?
Asa was born on 17th September 1982 to Akin and Arsah Elemide in Paris, France. So, Asa is 38 years old as of January 2021. Her parents named her Bukola Elemide. At the time of her birth, Asa’s parents were studying cinematography in France.
Asa’s early life
When Asa was two years old, her family moved back to Lagos, Nigeria, and she grew up in Festac Town although the family is from Itoko, Abeokuta, Ogun state. Asa’s family were members of the white garment-wearing Celestial church that is popular in some parts of Nigeria.
on the family’s return to Nigeria, her father worked as a telecom engineer as well as a cinematographer at weddings and other events. Meanwhile, her mother was a shopkeeper.
While growing, Asa grew up with three brothers and as an only girl in the family, their character likely rubbed off on her. Asa had once described herself as a tomboy, saying: “I was a tomboy and when I was a teenager and I became very shy because people made fun of me.”
With regard to her education, Asa first attended the popular Corona High School in Lagos. Later she went to the Federal Government College in Jos, Plateau state. At the completion of her secondary education, Asa returned to Lagos for her university education. Asa was temporarily a student of Theatre Arts and Music at the Lagos State University (LASU).
At that time, Asa was also attending a professional musical class at Peter King’s Musical School in Badagry ran by the renowned saxophonist. In the end, she only spent six months at LASU before dropping out to focus on her guitar studies for a year.
Asa Biography: Discovering music
Asa revealed that her love for music came from her father who had an impressive collection of classics such as Marvin Gaye, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and Lagbaja. Asa also likely had turned to music to overcome her parents’ bitter divorce that likely caused much pain.
However, she drew closer to her mother after the divorce finding solace in music. The artistes she listened to influenced her style of music and also her appearance. Asa grew long dreadlocks and she said she always loved them:
“I have dreads because I have always loved it. That was Bob Marley’s influence on me and also to save money.”
Bukola had always liked singing and performing. But, her thick voice made it difficult for some to see her gift. She was repeatedly rejected even by church choirs.
When she was about 20 years old, Asa moved back to her country of birth, France. Initially, she wanted to study at the IMFP School of Jazz Music but her teachers told her that she should go ahead and become a recording artist because she was ready and needed no schooling. Thus, she went ahead to pursue her music career with passion.
Asa Biography: Music career
Around 2001, Asa released her first album titled The Captivator. However, not much is known about this album and it does not even make the list of her albums on her Wikipedia page. The Captivator had songs like Jailer and Eye Adaba, the latter gained much airplay.
It is not clear whether she met her manager, Janet Nwose, before or after this first piece of work, but her life did turn around working with her. Janet introduced her to Cobhams Emmanuel Asuquo, a Nigerian musician, producer, and songwriter.
Together they mastered the production of her album, Asa (pronounced Asha), in 2007. The album is officially regarded as her first studio album. Christophe Dupouy and Benjamin Constant also contributed to her first platinum-selling self-titled album, Asa. Asa includes lead singles like Fire on the Mountain and Jailer.
Both songs did so well and announced her to the world. Nigerians immediately bought into the song as it brought a different sound. The song is considered a classic by many listeners.
Asa was signed to Naïve Records, a French-based recording label that specialises in electronic music, pop music, Jazz and classical music.
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Asa made the World Album list at No. 3 and was 32nd in the US Heat. Also, Switzerland’s top albums record listed it in 65th place while it was 15th in France rankings and 81st in Belgian listings.
After this initial success, Asa went back to the drawing board and took her time before releasing another song. It was a long way for an artist who was once so broke that she had once been stuck between the United States and France.
She also claimed the prestigious French Constantin Award as the best fresh talent of 10 singers or groups in 2008. The award’s winner was voted for by a jury of 19 music-industry specialists in Paris.
In 2014 Asa reportedly sold about 400,000 copies worldwide.
Asa’s second album: Beautiful Imperfection
In September 2010, Asa dropped the single Be My Man. The soulful lyrics and her emotional delivery once again lit up the minds of listeners. They had missed her after her seeming sudden disappearance from the Nigerian music scene, but she was back with another track for the ages. Then she also released her album, Beautiful Imperfection in the same year before dropping Why Can’t We in 2011.
Beautiful Imperfection was Asa’s official second studio album and went Platinum in 2011. It was ranked 14th in France and 35th in Belgium on their album listings. It made No. 61 in Spain and 54 in Switzerland. It also got to the 3rd position in the World album rankings.
In 2012, Asa re-released Beautiful imperfection and it contained her other singles like The Way I Feel and Ba Mi Dele.
Asa’s third Album: Bed of Stone
In 2014, Asa dropped Bed of Stone on the back of many strong singles like Dead Again, Eyo, Satan Be Gone, The One That Never Comes and Moving On. Again, it met a warm and wholehearted reception from fans. After the album had just sunk into the ears of music enthusiasts, Asa went on a world tour between 2015 to 2017.
Again, Asa’s album appeared on top ranking in three different European countries. Bed of Stone was 38 in France, no. 80 in Belgium and 64th in Switzerland.
Asa fourth album: Lucid
On 11th October 2019, Asa dropped her fourth studio album titled Lucid after a five-year hiatus. Prior to releasing the album she had dropped a single The Beginning on 25th June 2019 before releasing two other singles Good Thing and My Dear. Despite the enthusiastic response to the release of the album, it did not do quite as well as was expected.
It is the only studio album that Asa released that had not yet made it to the top album rankings in any European country.
Asa biography: Music style
As we have mentioned in the opening parts, Asa’s style is heavily influenced by classic songs from legendary musicians. Thus, it is expected that her sound would be different from those of mainstream Nigerian musicians who basically sing Afro-pop sampling older songs in their tracks.
Asa’s music style has been described as Indie-Afro Soul while many fans have noticed that there is a hint of reggae in her songs. Also, her songs have elements of jazz and pop as well. Thus, Asa’s style is a combination of all the genres we have mention. As a hybrid singer and performer, her style lends life to her already powerful lyrics.
She always cradles the guitar which is a key instrument in all her songs. While listening to Asa pouring emotions into the microphone, one is reminded of such legends as Marvin Gaye, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, King Sunny Adé, Diana Ross, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba.
Asa can also blow the trumpet besides playing the guitar incredibly well.
Asa Biography: Personal Life
Bukola Elemide, popularly known as Asa, is one of the few celebrities who have managed to keep their personal lives private. However, in the few interviews, she has granted, it is clear that she is very much self-aware. Once while speaking with Schick Magazine she said that life is unpredictable with many highs and lows.
During the same interview, when asked about her love life she had this to say:
“It’s either guys think they aren’t in your league or you have 150 sailors waiting at every port to swoon at your feet! Either way, it can be quite lonely and difficult to find someone who doesn’t mind taking the back seat to see you grow and wilfully take you for all you are.”
Is Asa married?
From the foregoing, it appears that Asa is single or at least is keeping the details of her relationship status private. We don’t have any information as to her relationship status. However, Asa does not appear to have a husband or a longtime partner, unless she is keeping the details private.
In the past, there had been rumours that Asa may be a lesbian but the Nigerian singer denied these and even went to the length of suing the media company that first published such falsehood.
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She also stated that some people make the mistake of thinking she is uptight when in reality she is not that serious. In response to her perceived strong character Asa had declared:
“You are simply an angry feminist. No one looks at the fact that being a strong woman is the influence of good parenting and society.”
Was Asa arrested in Heathrow?
There were rumours that Asa had been arrested in Heathrow in 2010 but she debunked the stories in an interview with The Net later that year. In the same interview, she also addressed the rumour that she was a closet lesbian. She is not and is very much heterosexual in her sexual preferences.
Asa’s net worth
There is no current Forbes listing stating Asa’s fortune and what she is worth financially, making it risky to trust figures seemingly being pulled out of thin air. However, some soft blogs claim that she is worth between $2-3 million. As we stated, these are likely wild guesses and cannot be trusted.
But it is clear that Asa is worth much. It is in a fact that she does not often perform at shows but when she does, it is at big-money shows. Recently, she performed on the same stage as John Legend on Monday 20th January 2020 at THISDAY Newspaper 25th anniversary.
In 2018, Etisalat (now known as 9 Mobile) allegedly signed her as an ambassador reportedly for about N200 million.
Her first concert in Nigeria, Asa Live In Lago held on 1st May 2016 at the Eko Convention Center of Eko Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos. She has also held concerts in Paris and several European cities and gone for a world tour in the past.
Final thoughts …
From the foregoing account of the biography of Asa, whose full name is Bukola Elemide, it is clear that Asa has had her own challenges. However, we can see that Asa had kept her eyes on her goal. One thing we can learn from her Asa’s biography is the world does not see the challenges in one’s life but only successes.
Asa, despite having a strong voice that many think is a weakness in female singers, has managed to turn it into an advantage in her case. The way she has managed to keep her personal life away from the limelight is also another testament to her strong personality. Asa is certainly, an artist that inspires confidence and we are looking forward to more masterpieces of music from her soon. Hopefully, we wouldn’t need to wait another five years that.
Bonus Asa information.
Asa soundtrack appearances
- Kokoya – the soundtrack to the film The First Cry (2007)
- The Place To Be – the soundtrack for GTBank (2009)
- Zarafa – the soundtrack for the animation movie Zarafa (2011)
- Prix Constantin (2008)
- French Music Awards Victoires de la Musique nomination for “Female Artist of the Year” (2011)
1. Asa (Asha) 2007
- Bi’ Ban Ké
- Fire On The Mountain
- Eyé Adaba
- No One Knows
- So Beautiful
2. Beautiful Imperfection 2010
- Why Can’t We
- Be My Man
- Preacher Man
- The Way I Feel
- OK OK
- Dreamer Girl
- Baby Gone
- Broda Olé
3. Bed of Stone 2014
- Dead Again
- Satan Be Gone
- Bed Of Stone
- Moving On
- How Did Love Find Me
- New Year
- The One That Never Comes
4. Lucid 2019
- Murder In USA
- The Beginning
- Good Thing
- Stay Tonight
- Happy People
- You And Me
- Femi Mo
- Makes No Sense
- Until We Try (This Lo’)
- 9 Lives
- Don’t Let Me Go
- My Dear
Asa other songs list
- Eyin Mummy
- World Song