Story by Ada Tseng.
In so many ways, music defines a generation or a culture, giving us the soundtrack to our multilayered, bicultural landscape. And the 10 women we highlight here not only lay it all on the line and bare their souls in their music but, each in their own way, do much to round out a picture of what it is to be an Asian woman in America. Our cover girl Yuna defies the modern definition of pop star with her inimitable voice juxtaposed with a girl-crush-worthy style of chic turbans and covered-up ensembles. We have the gossamer voiced Priscilla Ahn, whom we feel like we’ve grown with as her life journey (and music) goes from melancholy to bliss. Then there’s the flame-haired Hmong American hard rocker and an indefinable artist whose voice is featured in one of the hottest hits of the year. From sweet little ditties to feminist anthems, from odes written in the throes of love to songs that feel more like a cathartic purging, their music moves us, inspires us, rocks us. Take a glimpse into the meaning and memories behind the melodies.
Nadia Ali first garnered attention in 2001 for her band iiO’s hit single “Rapture,” the quintessential early 2000s dance song that inspired partygoers to get on their feet and lose themselves amongst the strobe lights.
The Pakistani American songbird was first introduced to dance music by the likes of C+C Music Factory and Cece Peniston as a teenager frequenting New York City nightclubs. By 17, she had met producer Markus Moser, who’d be her collaborator in iiO, and in the years after, she’d debut as a solo artist with her 2009 album Embers, which included the Grammy-nominated single “Fantasy.”
Last year brought not only a new marriage but also a move from New York to Los Angeles (“There is inspiration everywhere in L.A.,” gushes Ali), and she’s currently working on a new album called Phoenix, set to be released this year.
First Musical Memory: I must have been about 3 years old. It had to do with watching Bollywood movies. They’re all musicals.
Musical Inspirations: What made me want to get into music was actually a cartoon called Jem and the Holograms. That’s what really made me want to be a singer. Then Madonna, of course.
Personal Inspirations: My husband. When I first met my husband, we remained friends for nearly a year before we dated. In that time, I had such a big crush on him, and I didn’t know if he was interested. And out of that came a lot of songs, like “Must Be The Love,” which I released with Arty and BT last year.
Get your dance on with Nadia Ali’s “Rapture” video and more at AudreyMagazine.com/nadiaali.
This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here.