Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Asa's Songs: Awe, Bibanke

It seems a lot of people were interested in hearing the gist behind Asa's songs after I wrote the review of her London concert. So here goes:

Awe: This is a story about a young man (Waheedi), his aunt and his lover. This young man grew up in the village and when he grew older and finished school, he left the village to go to Lagos. In Lagos, he stayed with his aunt, and she helps him to secure a job. For some time, everything is fine. He goes to work everyday, comes home everyday and he gets on well with his aunt. Then one day he met a woman. She is older than him but it doesn't matter, they fall in love. Their relationship is deep and passionate, they engage in trysts at every chance they get. And what do you expect? The woman soon got pregnant. She told Waheedi about the pregnancy and he vanished for three days. In the meantime, the woman goes to his house to look for him and met his aunt. She tells the aunt that she is looking for Waheedi and she is carrying his baby. His aunt is obviously not pleased to hear this. When Waheedi eventually turns up, his aunt confronts him and what she's saying is the basis of the song. She is asking:
"Where have you been for the past three days? How come that woman who is old enough to be your mother said she is pregnant and it's your baby?"
Anyway, when his lover finally gives birth to the baby, there are more questions than answers. The baby doesn't quite look like Waheedi and his aunt comments on this:
"How come you are dark skinned and the baby is light skinned?"

She also mentions how they are related through his mum and grandmother. She ends the song by telling him she has enough problems on her plate, so she is not in the mood to deal with his own issues too. And so the story goes on....

Bibanke: This is the story of love turning bad. Asa has said in interviews that she wrote the song based on the experiences of her mum, her sister and a friend. It is about love that started very well in the beginning. When everything starts off being rosy, she holds on to all the promises the guy tells her and she is sucked in by his words. So much so that when it turns bad, she doesn't want to let go. The guy starts toying with her emotions, disrespecting her, blowing hot one minute and cold, the next. But she holds on to the negative relationship, making excuses for the guy, keeping up apprearances on the outside, even though she is breaking down inside.
Eventually, the guy leaves her and her bubble bursts. She needs to cry and let out all the emotions she has been keeping up bottled up inside for so long. She cries and cries and refuses to be consoled. She asks everyone to leave her alone to cry, even if she cries a river or a waterfall. But through her tears, she is washing away the hurt and pain. She will cry until she doesn't feel the hurt and rejection anymore. Then she will leave the guy, their relationship and everything to God.

Interesting stories right? (Beware your private life ending up in an album if your friend is an aspiring singer!) I love Asa though, she rocks!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Asa's Concert

Hello everyone! Hope you've been having a great week so far. Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy belated birthday, much appreciated! My weekend was good, the weather was perfect for barbecues, going on a picnic and reading in the garden. And I got to do just that.

My week also started on a great note. On Monday evening, I went to see Asa play at the Carling Academy in London. Her gig was amazing! I knew I would enjoy her show because I love all the songs on her album, but she definitely exceeded my expectations.

I went with two of my friends, one of them had only heard three of her songs and he was so captured by her that he wanted to see her play live. And we were not disappointed. We got to the venue early and since I had bought our tickets ages ago, so we didn't have to join the long queue. We got in at 7.30pm and got a space right at the front of the venue (it was standing only) and we waited for the show to begin. The hall filled up quickly, most of the people in the audience were Nigerians, but there were also some French people and other nationalities there.

The show began with the opening act, Ben Onono. He sang four songs, one of them called Badagry Beach, another called Blue Moon, and he also played the piano brilliantly. After he finished, the audience clapped and cheered, and we waited expectantly for the main performer to come on.

Ben Onono

Some people in the audience started chanting "Asa, Asa, Asa". One by one, her band members came on the stage, took a bow and began playing their instruments. The crowd started cheering and then her back-up singer came on, smiling at us like she knew we were waiting for Asa herself to come on. Then we heard the beginnings of her song "360" and the crowd went wild. Asa came on stage singing the song and the audience joined in, singing all the words and screaming.

She was brilliant - in one word. She was dressed simply with minimum fuss and make up, but she had amazing stage presence and we were all mesmerized. She interacted with the audience, performed like the star she is, and brought all her songs to life. During a performance by the band, she danced and the girl can move! For most of the show, the audience sang along and she seemed pleased by the response she got. At some point, her back-up singer was staring at the crowd in surprise and amusement because we had taken over her job!

After the first song, she sang "Subway" and then before she started singing "Bibanke" she told us the gist about the song. It was deep. Next came a new song that is not on her album, something like "Iro Ko Da". She then asked a member of the audience to come and join her to sing on stage. So many people screamed and jostled for her attention, it was funny. She called two girls up to the stage and they sang beautifully. "Fire on the Mountain" followed and of course we sang along, cheered, clapped and whooped when the song came to an end.

She chatted a bit and then started telling us the story behind the "Awe" song, teasing us with the enticing bits about the young man, his aunt and his lover. I enjoyed that and I thought it was really good, because I love the song and I know what the words mean, but I hadn't really gotten the gist of it before. When she sang it all the words came to life and you could almost imagine the people that were in the situation she described.

The next song she performed was "Peace" which we all enjoyed. When she started "Jailer" and invited the audience to sing along with her, we all went crazy, jumping up and down, waving our arms, screaming the song at the top of our lungs, and it was great! We definitely rocked that venue!

Then she sang "Beautiful", but before then, she told us that the song was dedicated to all beautiful ladies in the crowd, and she tried to engage us to "sing" along with her, teasing us by saying we should sing very softly so that the guys in the audience would "feel" it. We cleared our throats and tried our best to copy her but most of us just descended into giggles. Then she sang the song and gave it so much depth and meaning, doing a nice dance in the middle, to the beat of the drums.

She said the next song "No One Knows Tomorrow" was going to be the last song. So we savoured it and when the song came to an end, she thanked the audience, took a bow and went off stage. Some people started to leave, but most people in the audience decided to hang around and started chanting "Asa! More, More!" Then she and the band came back on stage! She said they stopped the music because she is shy and when she mentioned her name, we did not encourage her. So we screamed ourselves hoarse and then she decided to perform a few more songs for us.

She sang "Eye Adaba" wonderfully well, then she also performed two songs: one by Nina Simone and another by Bob Marley. Lastly, she did a mixed medley of three of her songs and then the show came to an end. We cheered, clapped and screamed and she said we were making her miss home, so when next she comes to London she would love to see us again, and stop by our house for some egusi soup :-) She introduced us to her excellent band: there was Janet, her back-up singer, Jeff played the drums, Nicola played the Guitar, Rodi played Bass and Didier played the key boards. They all took a bow, while we all clapped and cheered for them.

In all, it was a great show and a really good performance by Asa. I think I'm now her biggest fan! Her band was great too, so the quality of the music was excellent. I wish she could do another show in London before the end of the year, I'll definitely be there. The only downside was that it started late and it was a Monday so most people had to leave immediately the show ended to get home.
Here are some of my amateur photos of the gig:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Birthday, Appreciating Life and Writing

It was my birthday last weekend. At the beginning of the year, I kept on remembering that I would soon hit the "quarter of a century" mark and I thought it was so scary. I kept thinking: "What have I been doing since I was born? Have I made my mark on the world around me? Am I accomplishing my goals? If I was to review my life thus far, is there a legacy I can leave? Is my life and inspiration to others? Am I really fulfilling my purpose?" and so on. I was discussing these questions with my sister one day and she said, "You have to look at the things you have achieved so far and count them as blessings, then figure out the next set of goals you want to aim for". That cheered me up and inspired me, so as my birthday approached, instead of having a panic attack, I was able to relax and celebrate the totality of my few years of existence on the planet. And I look forward to many more! I get that feeling of "make time count" now, because every second adds up so quickly that I know I must utilise the rest of my life well. Well, because I don't know how much of it I have left you see. Funny enough, I actually feel good about growing older every year now, but maybe you should ask me again in ten years.

Putting all these sober reflections aside, I planned to let my hair down and have a good time so I had a party! It's not everyday one gets to reach a milestone in life is it? So I invited hubby, a few old friends (and some new ones too!) to celebrate with me, including two of my favourite girl bloggers: Mimi and Aloted. It was my first time meeting Aloted because we narrowly missed each other in Nigeria during the Christmas/New Year period last year. We all had fun at the bar on Saturday, eating, drinking, dancing, taking photos and generally having a great time. I got loads of presents too and I can truly say I had a fabulous birthday party. (I have a wishlist if anyone still wants to get me a present .. lol).

I don't know if this is a sign of growing older, but I've noticed that I'm now appreciating the people around me a lot more than I used to. It's not as if I've ever taken my family and friends for granted, but there is definitely something different. I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently and afterwards, I felt so blessed to have her in my life. She's one of the people that I know will give me the last clothes off her back if I needed it. Then my mum came to visit as well and I have also started appreciating her more. Then my sisters... they are like God-sent angels and they have been so supportive lately. Then there's my hubby, it seems I now look at him through different eyes. He truly is an amazing person and I'm blessed to be his wife. I hope I never forget that in all things, it is the people that love me and the people I love that have the most impact in my life.

I'm still working on my writing and it's so slow! I'm now appreciating all those books I see on the shelves in stores. I can now imagine the writer, taking time everyday to write each word down one by one. I can visualise how many times they wrote something and tore it up because it didn't sound right. I can picture them editing and re-editing their work before they got to the final draft. I can see them adding or taking out a character or sub-plot. Gosh I now know that writing a good story is not as easy as it looks! Sometimes I wish it were easier and I could just transpose all the thoughts in my head somehow and it would make sense to anyone that comes across it. But I can't. I have to physically write it out and read it out to myself until I get it right. And even then, I should be open to criticism.

Anyway let me not bore you off my blog with my rants, who sent me eh? It's getting warmer in England now (finally!), the sun is out and so are the miniskirts and shorts, ice-cream and lunches in the park. I'm out of here to enjoy the rest of the daylight. Who am I kidding, I'm off to my class! Hope you enjoy the rest of your week and you have a lovely weekend!
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