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France and Nigeria-Based Singer/Songwriter Asa Redefines World Music

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Asa / Photo by Lauren Dukoff
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Singer/songwriter Asa was born to make music. From her birth and later years in Paris to her formative years in Nigeria, music has remained her constant companion. In an effort to grow as a musician, she secretly enrolled in music school, bought a guitar and carved out a distinct sound that's unmistakably Asa—a blend of reggae, folk, soul and jazz. She weaves many themes throughout the 10 tracks of her self-titled debut, and the way she communicates emotion is further heightened through her use of English and her mother tongue, Yoruba.

LAist recently sat down with Asa at Caffe Etc. prior to one of her recent gigs at the Hotel Cafe. Over espresso, she opened up about the meaning of her name, the beauty of Nigeria and her thoughts on Los Angeles.

LAist: What led you to choose the stage name Asa? What does the name mean?

Asa: It means "hawk," though when I go to France, they call me "little falcon." The origin of the name comes from when I was a kid. I'd go missing a lot. I was always wandering and exploring, and if my mother wasn't watching me closely, I'd disappear. It was hard to find me, especially in the marketplace. When they found me one time, an old man gave me the name "Asa," because he said that I was as fast as a hawk. Since then, I've been Asa.