Asha Puthli

Last updated
Asha Puthli
Asha Puthli Bollywood awards.jpg
Background information
Born (1945-02-04) February 4, 1945 (age 76)
Bombay, India
Genres Jazz, pop, disco, electronica
Years active1970–present
LabelsCBS/Sony, PolyGram, TK, Autobahn, Top of the World

Asha Puthli is a singer-songwriter, producer, and actress from Mumbai, India.


She performed the vocals on the album Science Fiction by jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman and has recorded solo albums for EMI, CBS/Sony, and RCA. [1] Her recordings cover blues, pop, rock, soul, funk, disco, and techno and have been produced by Del Newman and Teo Macero. [2]

Early life

Puthli was born and raised in Bombay in an upper middle class Saraswat Brahmin family. She is a niece of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay. [3] Her father was a businessman, and her mother a homemaker. [4] Like many upper middle class Hindu children at the time, she attended English-speaking Catholic schools. [5]

Puthli began training at an early age in Indian classical music and opera. She listened to jazz and pop music on the radio, which led to her interest in fusion. [6] At thirteen she won a contest in which she sang "Malagueña". The victory encouraged her to begin improvising with a jazz band at local tea dances. Ved Mehta described her singing in his book Portrait of India. [7] She went to a university in Mumbai. [8]

Music career

After receiving her degree, Puthli worked as a British Airways flight attendant. For her training, she spent two months in London where she later recalled she "would get to hear real jazz". While vacationing in America, she auditioned for a dance scholarship from Martha Graham, which she received. She resigned from British Airways and relocated to New York. John H. Hammond at Columbia had read Ved Mehta's portrait of her in Jazz in Bombay. [6] After hearing a rough demo, he signed her to CBS Records. She sang lead vocals on the Peter Ivers Blues Band's cover version of "Ain't That Peculiar" which was reviewed favorably in Cashbox, Rolling Stone , and Billboard . Take It Out On Me, the band's album featuring Puthli, was released in 2009. [9] [5]

Hammond sent her to audition for avant-garde jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman, who was looking for a singer for his album Science Fiction (1971). [10] For the album, Puthli sang on two songs, "What Reason Could I Give" and "All My Life". [6] For her work on Science Fiction, she shared the Downbeat Critics' Poll award for Best Female Jazz Vocalist. [1]

Puthli's popularity grew not in the U.S. but in Europe [11] where she signed a record deal with CBS. Her solo albums reflected her interest in pop, rock, soul, funk and disco. She gravitated toward the glam world of Elton John and T. Rex. Her self-titled debut was produced by Del Newman, and it included cover versions of songs by JJ Cale and Bill Withers. She hired Pierre LaRoche (makeup designer for David Bowie and Freddie Mercury) and photographer Mick Rock to shoot the cover. [12] The album included a disco version of "I Am a Song" by Neil Sedaka. [13]

Film and fashion

During the 1970s, Puthli starred in lead roles in Merchant Ivory's Savages and Bruno Corbucci's The Gang That Sold America (Italian title:Squadra Antigangsters). [12] Her sense of fashion brought her visibility. A headliner at Studio 54, she was dressed by designers Michaele Vollbracht and Manolo Blahnik and photographed by Richard Avedon and Andy Warhol.

In the twenty-first century, she sang on Asana Vol. 3 by Bill Laswell and Hey Diwani, Hey Diwani by Dum Dum Project. In 2005, she returned to the UK charts with "Looking Glass" from the album Fear of Magnetism by Stratus.

Her song "Space Talk" from the 1970s, a popular tune with David Mancuso's The Loft crowd, has been sampled by P.Diddy, The Notorious B.I.G., Dilated Peoples, Governor featuring 50 Cent, and Redman; and her cover of George Harrison's "I Dig Love" was sampled in 2005 for the chart-topping track "Reload It" by UK Mobo award winner Kano. She has co-writer credits with Jay-Z, P.Diddy, The Neptunes, Jermaine Dupri, SWV, and The Notorious B.I.G. on the track "The World is Filled" from the multi-platinum album, Life After Death . [12]

In August 2006, she headlined Central Park Summerstage in New York City on an eclectic bill with DJ Spooky, Talvin Singh, Outernational, and Prefuse 73, and special guests Dewey Redman and Dres (rapper) of the hip-hop group Black Sheep. [14]

Praise by critics

Music critic Ann Powers in The New York Times called Puthli a "fusion pioneer". [15] Music critic Robert Palmer called her singing "extraordinary". [16] Her third solo album, The Devil is Loose, was called an instant classic by The New York Times. Thom Jurek of AllMusic called it " a masterpiece of snakey, spaced-out soul and pre-mainstream disco." [17]


As guest

Related Research Articles

Ornette Coleman American jazz saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter, and composer (1930–2015)

Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman was an American jazz saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter, and composer known as a principal founder of the free jazz genre, a term derived from his 1960 album Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. His pioneering performances often abandoned the chordal and harmony-based structure found in bebop, instead emphasizing a jarring and avant-garde approach to improvisation.

Asha Bhosle Indian singer

Asha Bhosle(néeMangeshkar; born 8 September 1933) is an Indian playback singer and entrepreneur. She is best known for her playback singing in Hindi cinema, although she has a wider repertoire. Bhosle's career started in 1943 and has spanned over seven decades. She has done playback singing for over a thousand movies. In addition, she has recorded several private albums and participated in numerous solo concerts in India and abroad. In 2006, Asha Bhosle stated that she had sung over 12,000 songs, a figure repeated by several other sources. In 2011, she was officially acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most recorded artist in music history. The Government of India honoured her with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2000 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008. Bhosle is the sister of playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and belongs to the prominent Mangeshkar family.

Material (band)

Material is an American musical group formed in 1979 and led by bass guitarist Bill Laswell.

The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar

The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar are a collective of Jbala Sufi trance musicians, serving as a modern representation of a centuries-old music tradition. The collective includes musicians from the village of Jajouka, in the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco. Most members are the sons of previous members, and adopt the surname Attar.

Madeleine Peyroux American jazz musician

Madeleine Peyroux is an American jazz singer and songwriter who began her career as a teenager on the streets of Paris. She sang vintage jazz and blues songs before finding mainstream success in 2004 when her album Careless Love sold half a million copies.

Usha Uthup Indian playback singer and film actress

Usha Uthup is an Indian pop, filmi, jazz, and playback singer who sang songs in the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. "Darling", which she recorded with Rekha Bhardwaj for the film 7 Khoon Maaf, won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer in 2012.

Helen Merrill is an American jazz vocalist. Her first album, the eponymous 1955 release Helen Merrill, was an immediate success and associated her with the first generation of bebop jazz musicians. After a prolific 1950s and '60s when she recorded with Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown, Merrill spent time recording and touring in Europe and Japan, falling into obscurity in the United States. In the 1980s and '90s, a contract with Verve Records and high-profile performances in America returned her to prominence. Noted for her emotional, sensual vocal performances, her career continues in its sixth decade with concerts and recordings.

<i>At the Golden Circle Stockholm</i> 1966 live album by the Ornette Coleman Trio

At the "Golden Circle" Stockholm is an avant-garde jazz live album in two volumes by the Ornette Coleman Trio, documenting concerts on the nights of December 3 and 4, 1965, at the Gyllene Cirkeln jazz club in Stockholm. Both volumes were released in early 1966. This marked the beginning of Coleman's contract with Blue Note after he left Atlantic Records.

<i>Skies of America</i> 1972 studio album by Ornette Coleman

Skies of America is the 17th album by jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman, released on Columbia Records in 1972. It consists of one long composition by Coleman taking up both sides of the album, played by the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted by David Measham. Coleman himself only plays on a few segments, and there is no other jazz instrumentation.

Bachir Attar is the leader of The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar. He is the son of Hadj Abdesalam Attar, who led the group Master Musicians of Jajouka at the time of their album, Brian Jones Presents The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka, produced by Brian Jones in 1968.

<i>Tomorrow Is the Question!</i> 1959 studio album by Ornette Coleman

Tomorrow Is the Question!, subtitled The New Music of Ornette Coleman!, is the second album by American jazz musician Ornette Coleman, originally released in 1959 by Contemporary Records. It was Coleman's last album for the label before he began a highly successful multi-album series for Atlantic Records in 1959.

Maki Asakawa

Maki Asakawa was a Japanese jazz and blues singer, lyricist and composer. She was an important voice of the Japanese urban counterculture.

<i>New York Is Now!</i> 1968 studio album by Ornette Coleman

New York Is Now! is an album by the American jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman released on the Blue Note label in 1968.

<i>Love Call</i> (album) 1968 studio album by Ornette Coleman

Love Call is an album by the American jazz saxophonist and composer Ornette Coleman recorded in 1968 and released on the Blue Note label.

<i>The Art of the Improvisers</i> 1970 studio album by Ornette Coleman

The Art of the Improvisers is an album credited to jazz composer and saxophonist Ornette Coleman, released by Atlantic Records in 1970. The album was assembled without Coleman's input, comprising outtakes from recording sessions of 1959 to 1961 for The Shape of Jazz to Come, Change of the Century, This Is Our Music, Ornette!, and Ornette on Tenor. Recording sessions in 1959 took place at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, California; those in 1960 and 1961 at Atlantic Studios in New York City.

I Dig Love 1970 song by George Harrison

"I Dig Love" is a song by English rock musician George Harrison from his 1970 triple album All Things Must Pass. A paean to free love, it marks a departure from the more profound, spiritually oriented subject matter of much of that album. Musically, the song reflects Harrison's early experimentation with slide guitar, a technique that he was introduced to while touring with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends in December 1969.

<i>Radioaxiom: A Dub Transmission</i> 2001 studio album by Jah Wobble, and Bill Laswell

Radioaxiom: A Dub Transmission is a collaborative album by Bill Laswell and Jah Wobble, released on September 18, 2001 by Axiom and Palm Pictures.

<i>Means of Deliverance</i> 2012 studio album by Bill Laswell

Means of Deliverance is the seventeenth solo album by American composer Bill Laswell, released on October 16, 2012 by Innerhythmic.

The Cherry Thing is an album by vocalist Neneh Cherry and The Thing, consisting of saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. It was recorded in 2011 and released the following year by Smalltown Supersound.

"One Night Affair" is a 1969 song by the O'Jays. It was released on the Neptune Records label. It is cited as one of the first disco songs.


  1. 1 2 Pareles, Jon (August 12, 2006). "Asha Puthli, an Indian Singer Who Embraces Countless Cultures". The New York Times . Retrieved 4 August 2018.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. Mandel, Howard (February 2007). "Reclaiming Singularity: Asha Puthli". DownBeat . Vol. 74 no. 2. p. 26.
  3. Kothari, Sunil (29 October 2018). "Asha Puthli: jazz legend comes to Mumbai to spellbind music lovers". The Asian Age. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  4. Khurana, Suanshu (10 February 2019). "Asha Puthli: Lady sings the blues". The Indian Express. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  5. 1 2 Montague, Joe. "Asha Puthli Is In The Studio Recording Once Again". Riveting Riffs. Riveting Riffs. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  6. 1 2 3 Marmorstein, Gary (2007). The label: The story of Columbia Records. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN   978-1-56025-707-3.
  7. Jhaveri, Niranjan, "Features" in Jazz Forum: The Magazine of the European Jazz Federation, No.17 (3/72), June 1972, page 69.
  8. Murchison, Gayle (2015). "Puthli, Asha". Grove Music Online. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2276309 . Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  9. Frank, Josh, and Charlie Buckholtz. In Heaven Everything Is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers and the Lost History of New Wave Theatre. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008, p. 80.
  10. Huey, Steve. "Science Fiction". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 September 2018.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. Bush, John. "Asha Puthli". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 September 2018.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. 1 2 3 Pareles, Jon (12 August 2006). "Asha Puthli, an Indian Singer Who Embraces Countless Cultures". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 September 2018.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. Jurek, Thom. "Asha Puthli". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 September 2018.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. Sisario, Ben, "Listings: Asha Puthli, Prefuse 73, Talvin Singh (Sunday)" in The New York Times, August 11, 2006,
  15. Powers, Ann (April 30, 2001). "Critic's Notebook; From India, Many Sounds, All Pulling Inward". The New York Times . Retrieved 4 August 2018.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. Palmer, Robert (July 30, 1976). "Mardi Gras Indians-And a Sound Like Raga Meeting Aretha Franklin". The New York Times .
  17. Jurek, Thom. "The Devil Is Loose". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 September 2018.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)