Asa Lands International Record Deal
Bukola Elemide, the wonder soul kid many call Asa is in the news again. Barely a year after her famed battle with Questionmark records; and despite the label’s threat that she’ll neither get another record deal, nor be able to use the brand name Asa and its known repertoire, the talented act has bagged an impressive deal with France-based Naive records.
Asa had walked out of her production deal with Questionmark in 2006, alleging, amongst many other things, that the label was trying to sign her on to a foreign label without her consent, and insisting that the circumstances surrounding her deal with Questionmark were suspect ab initio. In what became a media battle, Questionmark, led by Kevin Luciano-Gabriel, maintained the singer was an ingrate, and threatened to get a court order restraining her from performing any of her known songs (eye adaba, iba) or using the name Asa. Despite high-power interference (including a reconciliatory meeting brokered by Wole Soyinka), both parties could not reach a truce. And Asa took a walk.
Now, the young lady, who continues to find favour with music buffs and fans, is back after a long hiatus. And this time, she’s no longer weeping over any brouhaha with Questionmark. She doesn’t even want to talk about the troubled label, which is at present, immersed in an ugly controversy with Streetmonks. Asa has only one thing on her mind: her deal with Naive and her upcoming debut album. ‘I’m happy now. At least I can sleep with both eyes closed. I’m happy with my label because they respect me as an artiste. And, as an African who has a story to tell, I’m glad they have allowed me to take control of my music. I can do what I like. That’s why I have Yoruba songs on my album, even though it’ll be released in France’, she says enthusiastically last week.
Her debut album, to be self-titled, puts a final clip on protracted speculations on the future of her career, and widespread concerns that she may no find a foreign deal without previously-released materials in her home country. Interestingly, with the naive deal, Asa becomes one of the first few non-released Nigerian performers with an international recording contract.
Already, the first two singles from the album ‘Binbanke’ and ‘Fire on the mountain’ have been released to critical acclaim. Despite only having being released two weeks ago, ‘Binbanke’ has taken permanent residence on most radio stations’ playlists- and the fans- who have been starved long enough- are already taking note. Both songs, with great production input from Cobhams Asuquo, are characteristic of Asa – poetic, melodic and intensely spiritual. With unusual soulful, enthralling vocals, groovy rhythms (plus an unexpected reggae twist on ‘fire on the mountain’!) and near-excellent productions, the songs will join earlier recorded songs ‘Jailer’, ‘Iba’ and ‘Eye Adaba’ to endear the album to lovers of beautiful music.
‘We took out time to record this album. Thanks to Air France, we were able to fly (Cobhams, myself and my manager Janet) to France over five times. And during this period, I knew I had to withdraw from circulation because I had to have something to show to all those who believe in me’.
Thankfully, she has hit back on speculations she’ll be relocating to France following her debut. ‘This is my country. I don’t want to be big abroad and uncelebrated at home. Yes, we’ll be spending a lot of time in Europe. But we’ll also be spending a lot of time here too. That’s why the album will even be released in Nigeria before it’s released in Europe. There’s no way I’m going to abandon my motherland’, she said
Asa was born in France in 1982 to Nigerian parents who later returned t Nigeria where she grew up in Jos and La