by Aja Chestine
R&B Singer/Songwriter India Arie recently headlined the 2013 African World Festival.
Thousands of loyal fans were in attendance, including Milwaukee’s Mayor Tom Barrett and Congresswomen Gwen Moore.
Arie’s sound was dulcet-sweet and soothing. Her delivery provided the audience a sense of divine enlightenment, transmitting waves of love through the crowd. She took listeners on an expedition of songs, past & present.
Arie opened the concert with her 2001 smash hit, “Video,” from her debut album “Acoustic Soul,” which received seven Grammy nominations.
The harmonious journey to the not-to-distant past continued with songs like, “The Truth,” “I Am Not My Hair,” and “Brown Skin.”
She then took her performance to another level-the present, singing songs from her new album “SongVersation.”
“SongVersation” landed number four on the R&B/Hip Hop Chart. The album is her first since the release of “Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics” in 2009.
“SongVersation” allows Arie to have a personal conversation with her fans through the songs. The songstress said her musical mission is to “spread love, peace and healing through words and music.”
The songs Arie sang from the album during her AWF performance relayed highly motivational messages to the audience: “Just Do You,” “My Brother’s Keeper,” and “Break the Shell,” which she credits the legendary actress Cicely Tyson for inspiring.
During an interview, Arie was extremely open about her reemergence after a four-year hiatus. After eight years of massive success, which included four Grammy Awards, Arie decided to walk away from the money, fame and ultimately the music industry.
Arie said she came to realize she needed to separate the individual and artist in order to pursue a spiritual awakening that, she said, was long overdue. “For many years I struggled to be my authentic self, while others tried to tell me who to be,” Arie said.
During her time away from the industry, she worked hard to hone her already formidable artistic gifts, focusing on writing better songs and melodies.
“Writing music is a spiritual work,” said Arie, adding she prays before she begins to create music. She hopes her prayers line up with the way people receive the music.
“I know I’m not the biggest artist in the world, but I’m big at what I do!, Arie stressed. “I’ve always provided a consistently spiritual message through my music, even though it’s not always the most popular thing to do in the music industry.”
Arie recently shared her personal journey of highs and lows with Oprah Winfrey during a one-on-one interview on Winfrey’s OWN TV network. Aries said in our interview that she found the experience talking to Winfrey “fulfilling and freeing.”
Aries said nowhere else on television could she have had the type of discussion she had with Winfrey. Plus, the singer said, she had a chance to sit down with the “Queen of all media” herself. “It didn’t really matter what we discussed,” Arie said laughing.
Asked about her expectations for her new album, Arie said, “my passion for my musical mission has been renewed with the surprise reception of ‘SongVersation.’” Her new single from the album, “Cocoa Butter,” has received heavy radio play.
Arie continues to hold firm to the realization that music is her passion and purpose. This fall, she will set out on a 20-plus city tour, slated to begin in early September. In the future, she plans to start a non-profit organization for girls, dealing with self-esteem issues and body image.
Arie hasn’t given up on having a family either. When the question was posed to her, she said, “I hope so. I think I’m prime for children and family. I always attend for that; but now I think I’m ready for that next phase of my life.”