San Francisco Bay Area-based Indian Fijian and Mexican American R&B singer Anjali Asha has overcome a lot in her young life and has dived in with two feet into the music industry.
The singer-songwriter decided to fully commit to the music industry after graduating from high school. She wrote, co-produced and released her debut album “Chingona” at just 19 years old.
A survivor of a horrific car crash, the now 21-year-old Asha, whose name translates to “Offering Hope,” told India-West she “aim(s) to channel my struggles through music while simultaneously embracing them in a positive light, inspiring optimism and resilience in every listener.”
Her unique cultural background influenced her with a wide spectrum of music growing up. Anjali began writing lyrics as soon as she learned to write and quickly discovered singing to be a passion.
At 9 years old she amazed her father by singing him a song she had written. Being a music producer, Asha convinced him to record the song for a 5th grade class project.
“I've wanted to be an accomplished musician since I was a kid. I've been writing songs since I learned to write and would listen to music non-stop. The best moment I can point to that made music my clearest route was performing the song 'Girl On Fire' by Alicia Keys in front of my entire middle school,” she told this publication.
“I remember receiving a standing ovation and then immediately having a panic attack, I was in awe of myself and talents I don't think I really knew I had,” she added. “It was then that I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, regardless of how hard of a journey it may be.”
A natural at creating melodies with an interest in various music genres continued to help her define a style all her own. Some of her biggest influences include Amy Winehouse, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Fergie, Alicia Keys, Etta James, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra, her bio notes.
“Rihanna's style and swagger, Amy's jazzy tones and inflections, and Christina's grit and energy all became core parts of who I am as an artist,” she explained. “And I think if you look close enough you'll catch where all three of them show up in my demeanor.”
In June of 2018, Asha was preparing to release her debut album when a car accident involving a drunk driver brought everything to a halt.
Her face was crushed in, separating her cheekbones from her skull, along with a broken nose and jaw. Surgeons estimated a two-year minimum of recovery time and warned she may never sing again. Asha defied doctors’ orders to rest and she soon became a “miracle” patient.
“I vividly remember getting out of the car and being so sure that I was going to die without ever having been able to truly make my mark in this world. That no one was ever going to hear me and no one had ever really known me, it was heartbreaking,” she detailed of her incident.
“Then by some miracle I woke up. After that accident nothing else held weight in my life besides music. I wanted to experience everything I'd set out too. I wanted to exemplify kindness, and positivity and most of all a good time,” she added. “That accident broke me in more places mentally then it ever did physically and that's been a hard thing to explain to even those closest to me, some parts of me are still being pieced back together.
“But I can say with full confidence that everything about me is 10x stronger,” she told India-West.
Just two months into her recovery she began to work again. While waiting for upcoming surgeries, she inspired her team to get on board for a whole new project. Seven months later while still in recovery, Asha proudly announced her new debut album titled, “Chingona.”
“The word ‘Chingona’ represents a strong, badass, independent woman. Several doctors dubbed me a miracle child. My injuries were so severe, to recover so well and so quickly was unexpected to say the least. hospital staff commended my high spirits before and after the operating room,” she said.
“So coming home and hearing my mom call me a beloved childhood nickname even through her frustration was this light bulb moment,” she added. “That was the name of my album because that was me.”
The album talks about the world trying to take everything she had to live for away and Asha snatching it back.
There are 10 songs on the original album which released April 12, 2019; there will be 17 on the deluxe (coming soon) and “the story it tells is more so me telling anyone who listens that they can do whatever they put their minds too no matter what obstacles are in their way.”
Asked which song she is most proud of, Asha pointed to “Kaleidoscopic.”
“’Kaleidoscopic’ is my pride and joy because it makes everyone smile and dance just a little bit. It's talking about working a 9-5 to fund my career and all that it takes to get there,” she elaborated. “I remember writing it in about 30 minutes messing around before work and I went in the booth and recorded a quick take to remember the melody later on.
“I almost missed my train that day going to the same job I was singing about. I came back after my shift and my pops goes ‘you've got a hit,’" she added. “It felt so good. We never even re-recorded the song, the whole thing was done in one take.”
Asha said that her short-term goal is to build up her following. She had planned on touring this year, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to those plans. Long term, the artist says her dream is to sell out Wembley Stadium in the U.K., “but really just to travel the world performing and creating music would be living a fantasy for me.”
Despite those goals, Asha’s real focus isn’t inward facing, but bringing people together and sharing a message of togetherness.
“I grew up with people trying to box me into their expectations of how I should act or how a ‘lady’ behaves,” she said. “I want to show young brown women that they can be whoever they want to be. I want mixed kids to know they're included. I want to highlight the importance of education. I want to bring people together period. There is a lot of love missing from the world and my biggest goal is to bring it back,” she said.