By: Caylah Spearman
Early Life & Background
India Arie Simpson, also known as India Arie, is an American singer and songwriter who was born in Denver, CO on October 3, 1975. Her musical skills and abilities were encouraged by her parents in her younger years and comes from a musically-inclined mother. Her mother was a former singer who was signed with Motown and opened for Al Green and Stevie Wonder. After the divorce of her parents, her mother moved her family to Atlanta, GA when she was 13. Throughout her schooling in Denver, Arie had taken up a plethora of musical instruments, however, it was her interest in guitar that led to her personal revelation about performing and songwriting, while attending the Savannah College of Arts and Design. She would eventually leave the college to focus all of her attention on music.
“I’m not the average girl from your video, and I ain’t built like a supermodel. But I learned to love myself unconditionally because I am a queen.” – Lyrics from Video
Arie co-founded an Atlanta-based independent music group called Groovement Earthseed; however, despite success with the group, Arie was discovered by Motown Records and signed a deal with them in 1999. At the age of 24, her solo music career began.
Her debut album, Acoustic Soul, was released on March 27, 2001. The album was met with commercial success and positive reviews and debuted at number 10 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and number 3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. It is a certified double platinum album by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Additionally, this album awarded Arie with 7 Grammy nominations. Released on September 24, 2002, was Arie’s second album, Voyage to India. Much like her debut single, this album was certified by RIAA, debuted on the Billboard 200 at number 6, and topped the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Voyage to India won Best R&B Album at the 2003 Grammy Awards, and the single Little Things won Best Urban/Alternative Performance. Furthermore, Get It Together was featured on the soundtracks Shark Tale (2004) and Brown Sugar (2002).
Arie continued her success with albums Testimony: Vol 1, Life and Relationship, released in 2006, and Testimony: Vol 2. Love and Politics, released in 2009. Testimony: Vol 2 debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 list. It was not until 2013 that Arie released her fifth album, Songversation. In 2015, Arie released a collaborative album with Joe Sample called Christmas With Friends. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of Eric Garner in 2016, Arie released a song entitled “Breathe.” Finally, Arie released her first EP, Songversation: Medicine, in 2017. On September 2018, she premiered her new single “That Magic”. The song serves as the lead single from her sixth studio album titled Worthy which was released on February 15, 2019.
- The Truth
- Steady Love
- Brown Skin
- Get It Together
- I Am Light
- Ready For Love
- I Am Not My Hair
- Little Things
- Acoustic Soul (2001)
- Voyage to India (2002)
- Testimony, Vol.1: Life & Relationship (2006)
- Testimony, Vol.2: Love & Politics (2009)
- SongVersation (2013)
- Christmas with Friends (2015)
- Worthy (2019)
Awards & Achievements
India Arie has 4 Grammy awards. Her awards include Best Urban/Alternative Performance with her song “Little Things” in 2003. Her album Voyage to India won Best R&B Album in 2003. In 2010, Arie won Best Urban/Alternative Performance for her song “Pearls” with Dobet Gnahore. Her song “Imagine” with Herbie Hancock, Pink, Seal, Konono N1, Jeff Beck, and Oumou Sangare won Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals in 2011. In 2002 and 2003, Arie won the BET Award for Best Female R&B Artist. In 2003, Arie won the NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Dou or Group with Stevie Wonder, Outstanding Female Artist, Outstanding Music Video for “Little Things,” and Outstanding Song for “I Am Not My Hair” in 2007. Arie has also been nominated for several Soul Train Music Awards, Grammy’s, NAACP Image Awards, and BET Awards.
“I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am not you expectations, no, no. I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am the soul that lives within.” Lyrics from I Am Not My Hair
Impact On Music & World
India Arie’s career has significantly impacted the music industry in the realm of R&B and Soul music. Her unique blend of acoustic and electronic instrumentation and her introspective and socially conscious lyrics have established her as a trailblazer. Her music has influenced and inspired countless artists; her work has been recognized with various accolades and awards. Arie’s impact extends beyond her music, as she is known for her philanthropic and activism work. She has utilized her platform to raise awareness and promote positive social change as she has been an advocate for women’s rights, mental health, and other social issues. Her commitment to causes has prompted many of her fans and fellow musicians to become more involved in social justice work and activism. Overall, her career has been marked by artistic excellence and a dedication to political and social causes. She has redefined and expanded the boundaries of Soul and R&B music, and it has left an indelible mark on the music industry and the world.