Having missed the previous Rhythm and Spoken event, which turned out to be a great and fully packed evening, I did not want to miss the friday one (8th). I even showed up almost an 1hr before the event started although it did start abit later than usual(it started at around 9.15pm). It seemed like most guys opted to give it a miss which was rather a shame as thats where we expounded my exposure to new soul artists and a great upcoming afro-fusion band.
In the house was Phillo Ikonya and Renee of KenyaImagine, Obaladan, Tenzen/Sad and Mike Kwambo who was making a comeback after some months of hibernation.
Some pleasant changes have been incorporated by Naliaka and her team. She has decided to feature more neosoul with an African influence and more local music in her evening’s playlist as well has feature live music.
The quintet male group called Aziza whose incorporation of an acoustic guitar and a violin,was a pleasant change to the mood set at the start of their event. This was despite the fact that, its was their first time to perform to a live audience. As I was later informed, they have also not recorded yet(any producers out there)
The performances were great as the crowd was manageable thus less noise but my highlight for the evening was a song ‘Fire on the Mountain’ that was placed as an interlude to other peformances.
I like to pride myself as a Neo-soul guru with a huge collection to show for it.I am on the net looking for new upcoming artists who, my fellow Neo-soul aficionados(like Naliaka and some others) haven’t discovered yet. I must admit that on friday, I really felt challenged. Not only did I not know artist, I had also not heard this song and others by the same artist before. Apparently, Renee had heard it and it had driven her nuts(she practically ran to the DJ shouting and dancing with joy ).
That is how I discovered Asa(pronounced Asha).
Bukola Elemide also known as Asa is a Nigerian multilingual songstress born in Paris. Her early life in the City of Light left the little girl with only the vaguest of (happy) memories, since she was no more than two years old when her family returned to live in Nigeria. Paris was just one stage in the life of her courageous and hard-working parents. But her fate was tied up with the city : it was to Paris that Asa returned twenty years later and where her life as an artist took wing.
Marvin Gaye, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley, Aretha Franklin, Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey and Lagbaja and went on to draw inspiration from them. Asa was a lonely child. The family, her brothers, Africa….and yet : she didn’t fit into the usual clichés and was often sad, feeling out of place in childhood, even more so in the world of adolescence. She was different, and music became an escape route as well as a daydream. Asa would sometimes go to the park with her bothers to sing and dance, but more often took refuge in an imaginary universe that was her’s alone. Decked out in a wig borrowed from the maternal treasure chest, a tube of cream serving as her mike, revelling in the freedom of no one watching her, she sang Michael Jackson and Bob Marley hits and greeted an imaginary crowd…
Her style which is R&B, rubs up against pop, with reggae also making an appearance on Fire On The Mountain, the first track released from the album, an impertinent and barely-disguised metaphor for an ignorant and indifferent world. Anyone who refuses to pay attention to the sparks will have no choice but to run when the fire breaks out. The fire, it’s the conflicts we neglect because there is no oil at stake, but it’s also the paedophiles, domestic violence and poverty on your doorstep, and so on. Asa expresses her bittersweet point of view on the realities that move her in different forms, from daydream to nose-thumbing to SOS. Her aim is, of course, to transmit positive values, but also to put words to the things that hurt: Jailer, another highlight of the album, reinterprets the old adage “you reap what you sow”. This emblematic song with its irresistible refrain opens the album by denouncing modern slavery in all its forms. Asa combines these committed pieces with messages of hope: Eye Adaba (dove in Yoruba) where her voice takes on a fragile air to echo the acoustic guitar, 360, Peace, No One Knows… So Beautiful, a vibrant homage to her mother, Subway and Bi’Banke which take an original and insightful approach to love, full of strength and sensitivity. Sensuality intertwines with spirituality, rebellion with wisdom, on an inspired and optimistic first album. Highly personal and totally universal, Asa’s music will undoubtedly cross all frontiers, not just geographical, but also those of the heart and soul.
Africa, like a troublemaker…
Africa, like a cry of hope ringing in your ears…
Africa, like Asa.
Find lyrics to her songs here
Obaladan posed a question to me that I shall pass to you, how come there are all these Nigerian singers making international Headlines(Asa has been heard severally on BBC as well as features on other international Media here and here )There is also Nneka and Ayo who are also Nigerians and were featured on this blog some time back. He(obala) wondered, how come our ‘celebrities’/celebutards do not get past the local media?
Huge Props to Naliaka and the RnS crew for setting the trend in alternative poetic entertainment.