India Arie - Voyage to India to release Voyage to India
INDIA.ARIE often explains that she put a dot in her name to make it recognizable, a trademark of sorts. But since the release of her Motown debut Acoustic Soul, this artist's true signature has emerged unmistakably: honest, unpretentious and deeply affecting music. Combining rich melody, warmly enveloping vocals, natural instrumental textures, and a simply stated yet profoundly powerful message -- Love yourself! -- India.Arie has drawn a legion of fans who find themselves not only entertained, but encouraged, warmed, and even changed by her music.
Artist: India Arie
Title: Voyage to India
Release date: 09/24/02
Single: Little Things
Buy at: Amazon
VOYAGE TO INDIA presents another set of nuanced and deeply heartfelt songs to follow the platinum-plus success of her first album. "In hindsight, I think my first album was about being grateful that I had arrived at a certain point in my life and career," says India.Arie. "The second one's all about growth. It's called VOYAGE TO INDIA, because it's about my emotional and spiritual journey. And I'm still in the middle of this transition." Her fresh inspiration can be heard immediately in the first single, "Little Things," a gently bubbling word of support and self-care to all of the fans who've watched her grow from their own discovery to one of the most recognized voices in music.
A hallmark of her first album, India.Arie's unparalleled gift for articulating the ways that love affects and inspires us all, re-emerges in wonderful variety on VOYAGE TO INDIA, from the lushly arranged and irresistibly melodic "The Truth" and "Interested" to the spare, supremely expressive vocals in "Beautiful Surprise." Love also inspires an unrestrained outpouring of joy and poetry in "Complicated Melody," and the jazzy, retro-flavored bounce of "The One," a delicious creation of harmony, groove and production ingenuity, fully worthy of Seventies-era Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan.
Shared wisdom, and the patience to give and receive it, are highlighted again in "Talk to Her" and "Get It Together," both of them plain-spoken and encouraging tracks that also spotlight her supple, sparse band arrangements. And in a track that India.Arie says is key to the album, "God is Real," natural beauty is both reflected and exemplified in her music. India.Arie's unique combination of folk, modern pop and soul takes a breezy pace in "Slow Down," "Headed in the Right Direction" and "Can I Walk With You."
Throughout the album, India.Arie's sense of self-discovery and her gift for expressing deep, unguarded emotions with true-to-life proportion and poignancy is undiminished. At once quiet and intense, India.Arie often seems to touch our own inner voice with hers.
India.Arie's second album sprang from ideas developed while on the road opening for Sade, and a sudden creative tear at home in Atlanta. "I was ready?just really inspired and hungry," she says. "All of my favorite songs on the album were started at 6 o'clock in the morning after working in the studio, and I just stayed up writing. It ended up being really productive, and the songs just flowed out: "The One," "God is Real," "The Truth," "Complicated Melody." When I look back on the process, that was my favorite time: just recording demos on my eight-track at home, going to the studio next day and laying it down, real raw."
In the relaxed groundedness of the album, we clearly hear India.Arie's musical closeness to the band members who co-wrote and played while on tour and on the album. "My musical director, Shannon Sanders, and I were spending part of every day on tour developing songs before we even went to the studio. He became like a right-hand man, and we co-produced 90% of the album together." Guitarist Ricky Quinones was also a frequent collaborator, she says. "He'd teach me how to play something on guitar and I'd write a song to it, things like that." She adds, "In the production, I feel like I've become a lot more open-minded: my first single, ?Little Things,' doesn't have any guitar in it, so I think that says a lot about how far I've come musically."
"After the album was sequenced, I was surprised at how much of a true representation of the last year it is," India.Arie notes. "It was a musical manifestation of my last year or two. It's been all about growth and experiencing different kinds of love and friendship, bonding. ?Little Things,' ?Slow Down,' ?God is Real,' and ?The Truth,' all blended together, would sum up the past year."
India.Arie learned the transforming power of music early in life, encouraged by both parents: her mother, Simpson, herself a former singer, and now India.Arie's stylist; and her father, basketball star Ralph Simpson. She had taken up a succession of musical instruments throughout her schooling in Denver, Colorado, but her discovery of the guitar at college in Savannah, Georgia, led to a personal revelation about songwriting and performing. "When I started tapping into my own sensitivity, I started to understand people better. It was a direct result of writing songs," she said at the release of her first album.
Co-founding an Atlanta-based independent music collective, her one-song turn on a locally released compilation led to a second-stage gig at Lilith Fair, where a Universal/Motown music scout spotted her and made an introduction to Motown CEO Kedar Massenburg. Sidestepping all the devices of flavor-of-the-month record-making, Acoustic Soul acquainted listeners with a brave and eloquent new voice, drawing an uncommonly broad swath of listeners from hip-hop, neo-soul, blues, folk and classic troubadour-style singer/songwriting, all at once. The album made an impressive No. 10 debut on the Billboard national album chart at its release in March, 2001 and within six weeks, without the concentrated radio play that typically powers pop and rap albums, Acoustic Soul was certified gold by the RIAA for sales of 500,000 units.
Almost immediately, India.Arie was sought out by veteran roots-rocker John Mellencamp for a duet on "Peaceful World." She collaborated with a kindred eclectic spirit, jazz crossover artist Cassandra Wilson, on "Just Another Parade," and wrote the heartbreaking and mightily inspiring "Good Man" for the Mel Gibson movie We Were Soldiers.
Sade personally invited India.Arie to open her 2001 tour, expanding the initially scheduled 28 arena dates to 40. As she shouted out to her own influences and heroes, from Stevie Wonder to Bonnie Raitt, Donny Hathaway and James Taylor, pop music's A-list were, in turn, unanimous in their praise. Elton John made particular note of the "warmth and style" he admired in Acoustic Soul, in a March, 2002 New York Times interview, while Oprah Winfrey singled her out for the "inspirational" and "insightful" qualities of "Video." "We needed this song," Winfrey said, on an Oprah episode showcasing the most promising new female artists of the year. India.Arie also headlined MTV2/Vibe "Women in Hip-Hop and Soul" tour, and co-starred in the Gap's holiday television campaign, appearing with Sheryl Crow, Liz Phair and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in one TV spot, and solo in another.
By early December 2001, Acoustic Soul passed the million-unit mark in sales, and there was no doubt that India.Arie stood among such grass-roots breakthroughs as David Gray, Jill Scott, Alison Krauss, Diana Krall, and the bluegrass soundtrack collection O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Named Best New Artist by Vibe Magazine, MTV2, and Billboard's Video Awards, India also drew nominations from the NAACP Image Awards and Soul Train's Lady of Soul Awards. Entertainment Weekly magazine listed India.Arie among the Top 100 "It" Entertainers of 2001.
Then, one more chapter opened when the 2002 Grammy nominations were announced on January 4th. That morning, India.Arie astonished the record industry by drawing nominations in seven categories, including Best New Artist, and Record, Song and Album of the Year -- the most of any solo artist, and one less than the most-nominated act, U2. Even though she took home no awards on Grammy night, she turned in a buoyant performance of "Video" to close the performances of the nominees.
By then, her multiple Grammy nominations had already kicked Acoustic Soul into a second-wind high gear, and India.Arie responded with a nationwide series of engaging interviews, magazine cover stories, memorable concerts and television performances. The album rebounded in sales, to #14 nationally, and as winter nearly turned into summer, "Video" was still in high rotation on major market radio in May 2002. That month, she was honored with an Essence Award for "writing the anthem for Black womanhood, for celebrating our strength, courage and wisdom, and illuminating our beauty -- naturally." In June, BET named India.Arie best R&B female artist, and in its 60th charting week, the album was nearly the oldest entry in the Billboard top 100, alongside Linkin Park, Tim McGraw and O Brother. All of this positioned Acoustic Soul to sell over 2.5 million units worldwide.
In a way, much of the country played catch-up in 2002 with what India.Arie's listeners knew on first listen last year. The buzz from fans and the industryites who've worked with her is that, with an artist as open-hearted as she is, we may only be starting to see how good she's really going to become.
Sure enough, India.Arie's creative fire remains bright at the release of VOYAGE TO INDIA. "Writing songs teaches me," she says. "It's like I hear words I could not make up in my own head -- they're way more wise than I am! When I hear it in the completed song, I say, ?Wow, that's a message for me.' That's the thing that excites me, listening to this album and seeing how my life is going to manifest itself into even more of what these songs are." The music of India.Arie expresses an unshakable, and always much-needed, faith in the ways that love and life can lead us to our best selves. She has proven again her ability to move millions -- one heart at a time.
Voyage to India Tracklisting
2. Little Things
3. Talk to Her
4. Slow Down
5. The Truth
6. Beautiful Surprise
8. Get It Together
9. Headed In The Right Direction
10. Can I Walk With You
11. The One
12. Complicated Melody
14. Good Man
15. God Is Real
"Voyage to India" by India Arie - release date: 09/24/02..