Monday, December 8, 2008
India Arie Keeps Bringing The Truth
Every once in a while an artist comes along that just hits that right note; he/she just sorta stops you in your tracks. You'd be busy with something, but the sound, the music and the voice make you stop what you're doing so that you can absorb it all. You're driving along just trying to get to your destination then you hear that song that makes you just want to hit the 'cruise control' button. You stay focused on your driving but mentally reserve a portion of your brain to totally imbibe the sweet melody that's coming through your speakers. You're watching TV but have the stereo turned down low in the background and this voice breaks through causing you to put the TV on mute and pump up the volume on the stereo. The voice is compelling; the music is magnetic; the lyrics cannot be ignored. The songs wrap themselves around you like a warm blanket on a chilly night. Neo-soul and R&B singer, songwriter, record producer, guitarist and flutist India Arie Simpson holds this power. She is extremely lyrically and musically talented. She writes and sings the truth. She writes what is real to her. She writes about issues that affect people. She draws on her experiences and bares her soul in her music. When I listen to her lyrics and melodies I can't help but close my eyes while I do so. It's as if I need to close out the rest of the world so that I am totally immersed in the message and music. I love India's music. For as long as she keeps making it I will keep buying and listening to it. I always consider it a rewarding experience to follow an artist on a journey of growth. Too many artists sing what they are given to sing; not that there is anything wrong with that. It's all good with me. But it takes courage; real courage; sometimes raw courage to sing what your real life experiences are. You are putting your life out there on your album for the whole world to listen to and, more likely than not, judge. That cannot be easy. Thousands of people; millions of people are given a window into your life - your struggles, your pain, your joy, your sorrows, your ups and your downs. Difficult as this may be, some artists make it all seem so easy sometimes - Mary J. Blige, Tina Turner and Erykah Badu, just to name a few. India Arie no doubt has come a long way and has established herself as one of the most versatile soul/R&B artist of her time. She has earned a reputation of always giving her best on any given album. Her albums take you on a journey of her life - where she has been, where she is now and where she hopes to go. If any of this is uncertain (which direction she wants to go in) there is no fear of disclosing it either. She's brave, she's strong and she's confident yet has her vulnerabilities and insecurities. She is woman. She is awesome. She is talented. In fact, she is multi-talented (it is reported that she also plays the saxaphone, baritone clarinet, french horn and trumpet). My favorite songs from this soul sister include her cover of Don Henley's The Heart of the Matter, Video, Brown Skin, Back to the Middle, Wings of Forgiveness, I Am Not My Hair and Little Things. I get completely engrossed in Arie's music. The strum of her guitar is almost hypnotic at times. When she sings, there are times when she causes my spirit to take flight. There are times when words just aren't enough and all I can do is hum along because singing along would minimize the amazing musical experience. Her debut album Acoustic Soul was released on March 27, 2001 and debuted at # 10 on the U.S. Billboard 200, # 3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and was certified double platinum within months of its release selling 2.18 million copies in the U.S. and 3 million worldwide. The album also garnered the most Grammy Award nominations back in 2002 (7 in total). India continued riding the waves of success with the release of her second album Voyage to India. It debuted at #6 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and #1 on the R&B chart and following the trend of her first album it was certified platinum soon after its release (selling 1.4 million copies in the U.S. and 2.2 million worldwide). This album earned Arie 2 Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album and Best Urban/Alternative Performance (Little Things). Her third album Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship sold 161,000 copies in its first week making it Arie's best sales week to date and was certified gold within 2 months (selling 730,000 in US and 1.3 million worldwide). Her fourth album Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics is slated for release on February 10, 2009.