Asha Puthli is one of the most successful vocalists ever to come out of India. Asha is a cosmopolitan pioneer of jazz, funk, soul and electronic dance music who has recorded ten solo albums for labels like EMI and CBS/Sony.
A quick glance at some of the artists with whom she has recorded, sung or shared the stage is a testament to her eclecticism: ALICE COLTRANE, ROY AYERS, HENRY THREADGILL, GRACE JONES, MIRIELLE MATTHIEW, SONNY ROLLINS, CHARLIE HADEN, RENATO ZERO, BARRY WHITE, BILL LASWELL, PATTI SMITH, NINA HAGEN, DON CHERRY, FREDDIE HUBBARD, AND DJANGO REINHARDT.
Trained in Indian classical singing and a natural jazz improviser, Asha Puthli created her own unique sound in the 1970s - soft, slinky, sexy, meditative, and chilled out. Captured on classic recordings like "Space Talk" and "The Devil is Loose" that distinctively cool sound prefigured the entire rise of acid jazz and ambient dance music. Today, her songs are being rediscovered by legions of hip-hop, neo-soul, nu-jazz, and electronica fans.
Asha's underground 1970s albums, helmed by renowned producers like DEL NEWMAN and TEO MACERO, have become popular hip-hop break records, sampled by the likes of THE NOTORIOUS BIG, DIDDY, JAY-Z, THE PHARCYDE, THE NEPTUNES, JERMAINE DUPRI, JAGGED EDGE, SWV, J-WALK, GOVERNOR feat. 50 CENT, DILATED PEOPLES, REDMAN, DJ KANO and THE ABORIGINALS.
Born and raised in Bombay, Asha emigrated to the United States to pursue jazz. Upon her arrival, Asha was championed by Columbia Records impresario JOHN HAMMOND, who had forged a brilliant career discovering acts like Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. Hammond sent her to record with avant-garde pioneer ORNETTE COLEMAN, and her performances on his arresting "Science Fiction" album garnered her the highly prestigious Downbeat Critics' Poll award for "best female jazz vocalist," alongside Ella Fitzgerald and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Historian Robert Palmer gushed about Asha's sound: "A sound like Raga meeting Aretha Franklin, Miss Puthli's singing is . . . extraordinary."
"A sound like Raga meeting Aretha Franklin..." - The New York Times
Asha's series of inventive solo albums for CBS records, including her self-titled 1973 debut, 1975's "She Loves to Hear the Music", 1976's "The Devil Is Loose", and 1979's "Asha L'Indiana", reflect the young singer's burgeoning interest in pop, rock, soul, funk and disco. Asha's gossamer, Eastern-influenced cooing over bass-driven grooves on songs like "Flying Fish" and "Space Talk" was the precursor to disco hits like "I Feel Love" and "Love to Love You Baby," and her four-octave soprano sound provided the sonic template for future electronic dance music hits by BLONDIE, KATE BUSH, OFRA HAZA, KYLIE MINOGUE and others. Recognized in critical circles as a "fusion pioneer," Asha's distinctive, unusual recordings predate fusion of east and west celebrated today in styles like worldbeat and bhangra by almost twenty years.
During the 1970s, Asha also branched out into films, starring in lead roles in movies by LOUIS MALLE, MERCHANT-IVORY and BRUNO CORBUCCI. Her cosmopolitan sense of glamour rocketed her to visibility as a fashion icon: a Studio 54 headliner, she was dressed by A-list designers from BOB MACKIE to MANOLO BLAHNIK, and photographed by iconic lensers such as RICHARD AVEDON, ANDY WARHOL, FRANCHESCO SCAVULLO, PETER BEARD and DAVID BAILEY.