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|Born||February 4, 1945|
|Genres||Jazz, pop, disco, electronica|
|Labels||CBS/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. Her recordings cover blues, pop, rock, soul, funk, disco, and techno and have been produced by Del Newman and Teo Macero .
Puthli was born and raised in Bombay and 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. 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. She graduated from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda with a B.Sc. degree.
After receiving her degree, Puthli received a dance scholarship from Martha Graham and moved to New York. John H. Hammond at Columbia had read Ved Mehta's portrait of her in Jazz in Bombay. 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.
Hammond sent her to audition for avant-garde jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman, who was looking for a singer for his album Science Fiction (1971). For the album, Puthli sang on two songs, "What Reason Could I Give" and "All My Life". For her work on Science Fiction, she shared the Downbeat Critics' Poll award for Best Female Vocalist with Ella Fitzgerald and Dee Dee Bridgewater.
Puthli's popularity grew not in the U.S. but in Europe 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. The album included a disco version of "I Am a Song" by Neil Sedaka.
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). 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.
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.
Music critic Ann Powers in The New York Times called Puthli a "fusion pioneer". Music critic Robert Palmer called her singing "extraordinary". 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."