Asha Puthli has a somewhat unorthodox relationship with time. When she’s asked about her age, for instance, the pop diva has often been known to declare, “I’m 6,000 years spiritually, I’m mentally 98, I emotionally five and chronologically in between.”

That unconventional sense of temporality has decisively defined the Mumbai-born musician’s 35-year-long career. Puthli first gained international attention in 1971 performing jazz – a form that encourages musicians to play with rhythm, to glide on top or below the beat rather than hitting it predictably in the middle. Her sultry vocals on avant garde jazz musician Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction album that year earned her the prestigious Downbeat critics poll award alongside Ella Fitzgerald.

Though she soon moved on to performing pop, her talent for presaging the moment continued to characterise her work. She was an early entrant in the glam rock scene and her self-titled debut album in 1973 was produced by Elton John’s associate Del Newman.  Three years later, her third solo album, The Devil is Loose, was described by one critic as “a masterpiece of snakey, spaced-out soul and pre-mainstream disco”. She was among the first international recording artists to infuse Indian elements into her tunes, subtly embellishing her pop vocals with Hindustani music ornamentation. Yet, chances are, many listeners in the US and India know very little about Asha Puthli.

“Perhaps it’s because I was a little ahead of my time,” said Puthli during a recent visit to Mumbai. “Maybe my time is right now.”

She may be right. Last year, Puthli's albums and costumes were featured alongside those of Ravi Shankar's, and this year she's part of the 'Beyond Bollywood" exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

In response to a request from, Puthli chose six tracks that she believes really stand out, and explains why.

1. Space Talk (1976)

"It's had a life of its own, an organic kind of evolution. It has a progeny with its DNA in several songs sampled by P. Diddy and Notorious BIG, which then grandfathered into a Jay Z song. Also sampled by other A-list Hip-Hoppers and Rappers like 50 Cent, Redman and more. Most importantly, 'Space Talk' has been traveling in outer space since the 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo launch. I'm sure ET aliens will give it a better reception than earthlings!"

2. Peek-A-Boo Boogie (1979)

"One of my faves, only because I wrote this for my son when I had to balance being a single mom and a songwriter with an album deadline. The song was written while playing hide and seek with him."

3. The Devil is Loose (1976)

"My first gold album in Europe. It expanded the audience from jazz into mainstream. Also sampled, remixed and covered by other artists, which is the best compliment for a song writer. It's been sampled by Diplo and J. Walk."

4. I'm Gonna Kill it Tonight (1980)

"This is from the rock phase of my career. Most of the songs on my rock albums had a socio-political comment or addressed environmental or women's issues. This is from a group of songs written on the victimisation of women."

5. War – What for? (2009)

"It's not taking sides, pro- or anti-war. Inspired by the Mahabharata and Lord Tennyson, it's about dharma and one's duty. It's from my 2009-2010 album, which was a genre-jumping album. This album had everything but the kitchen sink thrown in, from chill to rock opera to pop and disco."

6. Say Yes (1976)

"There are a couple of songs referencing the Indian context, like sati – 'I could walk thru fire', and in this song ..'opens like a lotus your eyes', 'needles in my body'. The double entendre is inspired by the sadhus, and gave me the opportunity to utilise some of the mudras from Indian dance in a subtle way on this TV show."