"I was never searching for a deal. I knew that I wanted as many people as possible to hear my music, but I made a decision early not to compromise myself or my music." India.Arie.
Neo soul and R&B singer/songwriter India.Arie first broke the music scene with her two-time platinum debut album Acoustic Soul (2001), which spawned the hit songs "Video," "Brown Skin" and "Ready For Love." In 2003, she took home two Grammy awards for Best R&B Album and Best Urban/Alternative Performance, thanks to her sophomore album Voyage to India (2002) and the single "Little Things." She recently released her latest effort, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship, in June 2006. It delivered singles "I Am Not My Hair," "There's Hope" and "The Heart of the Matter." India is expected to release Volume 2, Love and Politics, in 2007.
Childhood and Family:
In Denver, Colorado, India Arie Simpson was born on October 3, 1975. Her name is a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi as her due date matched his birth. The “Arie” part was made up by her mother, which means “lion.” Her mother, Joyce, is a former singer (once opened for Stevie Wonder and Al Green) and now becomes India Arie's stylist. Her father, Ralph Simpson, was a professional basketball player. Following her parents’ divorce, her mother moved 13-year-old India and brother Jon to Atlanta.
India plays the saxophone, baritone clarinet, french horn, recorder, trumpet and guitar. After high school, she enrolled in the Savannah College of Art and Design, but soon dropped out to play her music full time.
Voyage to India
Daughter of a former singer, India.Arie has showed her music talent since her early years. She sang in church and played music instruments like saxophone, baritone clarinet, french horn, recorder, trumpet and guitar. She later co-founded Atlanta artist collective 'Groovement/Earthseed' and their independent compilation led to performances at Lilith Fair tour stops in St. Louis and Nashville.
In 1999, India was scouted by Motown Records and she soon worked on her debut album, Acoustic Soul. Released on March 27, 2001, the album peaked at #10 (U.S) and #3 (U.S. R&B). It spawned singles "Video" (#45 R&B, #47 Pop), "Brown Skin" (#10 Dance, #39 R&B), "Strength, Courage, & Wisdom" (#76 R&B) and "Ready for Love" (#14 R&B). Acoustic Soul eventually received two times platinum. At the 2002 Grammy awards, the album was nominated Best R&B Album and Album of the Year. Single "Video" was also nominated for Record of the Year, Best R&B Song, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Song of the Year. Additionally, India was nominated for Best New Artist at the prestigious music awards.
"When I started tapping into my own sensitivity, I started to understand people better. It was a direct result of writing songs." India.Arie (on her debut album Acoustic Soul).
The next year, India followed her success debut with her sophomore effort, Voyage to India. Hitting the music stores on September 24, 2002, the album peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart and topped the Billboard R&B album charts. It spun off singles "Little Things," "Can I Walk With You" and "The Truth." Voyage to India finally went platinum, and at the 2003 Grammy Awards, it won for Best R&B Album. Single "Little Things" also won Best Urban/Alternative Performance.
Meanwhile, India sang "Purify Me" (#53 R&B) in a 2005 movie adaptation of a play written by Tyler Perry, Diary of a Mad Black Woman. She is also featured on Stevie Wonder's album A Time To Love (2005), in which she sang duet with Stevie Wonder on the title track. The song, which India wrote, was nominated in the 2006 forty-eighth Grammy Awards, for Best Pop Vocal Collaboration with Vocals. Additionally, she performed "Just 4 2day" on the September 2005 premiere of "The Tyra Banks Show" and wrote "What About the Child," a $1 internet downloadable song, to support child victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship, India's third studio album, was released on June 27, 2006. During its first week of release, the album sold 161,000 copies in the United States alone. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and U.S. R&B album charts, becoming India’s first #1 on the Billboard 200 and second on the US R&B albums chart. The album delivered singles "I Am Not My Hair" (#47 R&B, #97 Hot 100, #65 UK), "There's Hope" (#38 R&B) and "The Heart of the Matter." On Friday 4 August 2006, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship was certified gold. India is expected to release Volume 2, Love and Politics, in 2007.