Soulful Still Strength: Asa, Ayo, Sara


Asa (pronounced “Asha”) was born Bukola Elemide in Paris (France). Not much later she relocated to Nigeria where she spent her childhood and adolescence immersed in the music of the city.  In 2007 she set off to take flight with the release of her first single, Fire on the Mountain which had already received wide airplay on stations in Europe when her self-titled debut album hit stores that year. The result is a collection of provocative and savvy songs that are as personal as they are universal confirming the truth that strong messages are most effective when sent with a calm demeanor.

Ayo, born Joy Olasunmibo Ogunmakin in Cologne (Germany), emerged as one of Europe’s biggest new pop stars of 2006 with her breakthrough debut LP, Joyful. Born to a Nigerian father and Romanian gypsy mother as a child Ayo absorbed the musical traditions of her parentage as well as influences including American soul, reggae, and Afrobeat—all the staples of her father’s extensive record collection


Sara Tavares. Afro-Portuguese songwriter Sara Tavares had her debut single release, Sara Tavares & Shout, in 1996, where she mixed gospel and funk with her native Portuguese influences. Sara was born and brought up in Lisbon. Second-generation Portuguese of Cape Verdean decent, she was brought up by an elderly matriarch in her community after her father left for the US in search of a better life.

Afro-European immigrants, who offer rich mix of African cultures, are reflected in work of Sara.  Going gold in Portugal while offering creative musical direction Sara confirms  that subtle changes are most effective when served creatively.  Full of messages of hope and self-worth, Tavares’ Balancê established her as one of the Diaspora’s most distinct and influential artistic voices.

by Mark Bajkowski

Mark, born in Poland, is a Jack of all trades, master of none, who lives in New York since 1979. Mark has an unusually wide range of interests and is known to relate well to people half his age. Since his early childhood, he felt a curious relation to Africa, which unavoidably brings up the controversial subject of past-life memories.