India.Arie (born India Arie Simpson; October 3, 1975) is a Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter and record producer . She has sold over 3.3 million records in the U.S. and 10 million worldwide. She has won four Grammy Awards from her 21 nominations, including Best R&B Album.
Simpson was born in Denver, Colorado. Her musical skills were encouraged by both parents early in life. Her mother Joyce is a former singer (she was signed to Motown as a teenager and opened for Stevie Wonder and Al Green) and is now her stylist. She has an older brother named J’On. After her parents divorced, Simpson’s mother moved the family to Atlanta, Georgia when she was thirteen. Simpson had taken up a succession of musical instruments throughout her schooling in Denver, but her interest in the guitar while attending the Savannah College of Art and Design, in Savannah, 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 press release of her debut album, Acoustic Soul.
Co-founding the Atlanta-based independent music collective Groovement EarthShare (Groovement was the collective artists’ name and EarthShare was their independent label name), her one-song turn on a locally-released compilation led to a second-stage gig at the 1998 Lilith Fair. In 1999, a Universal/Motown music scout spotted her and made an introduction to former Motown CEO Kedar Massenberg. Arie currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia.
Acoustic Soul (2001)
Acoustic Soul was released on March 27, 2001 and debuted at number ten on the U.S. Billboard 200 and number three on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Within months, without the concentrated radio airplay that typically powers pop and rap albums, Acoustic Soul was certified double platinum, selling 2,180,000 copies in the U.S. and 3,000,000 copies worldwide. While Arie and the album were nominated for seven Grammy awards in 2002, they won no awards, losing in five of seven categories to Alicia Keys. She closed the ceremony with a performance of her song “Video“.
Voyage to India (2002)
Arie followed the success of her debut on September 24, 2002 with the release of Voyage to India. It debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 and number one on the R&B chart. In 2003 it won her two Grammy Awards in 2003—”Best R&B Album” and Best Urban/Alternative Performance” for the song “Little Things”. Soon after its release, Voyage to India was certified platinum selling 1,400,000 copiesin the U.S. and 2,300,000 worldwide.
Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship (2006)
Arie’s third studio album, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship, was released on June 27, 2006. It gave Arie her first number-one spot on the Billboard 200 and was her second chart-topper on the R&B chart. This album was also the first number-one album for Motown in twelve years. Its first-week sales of 161,000 copies are Arie’s best sales week to date and was certified gold in August 2006, selling 730,000 in US and 1,300,000 worldwide. “I Am Not My Hair” was the most successful release from Testimony: Vol. 1., reaching the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 at #97 and the UK Singles Chart at #65.
Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics (2009)
Her highly anticipated next album, Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics was released on Tuesday, February 10, 2009. It debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, and No. 2 on the R&B chart. Within this CD, Arie collaborated with such artists as Sezen Aksu, Keb Mo, Gramps Morgan and Musiq Soulchild to fulfill her self-proclaimed desire to “do projects with people who are making music that is meaningful, with a lot of integrity and a lot of sonic diversity”. Arie, in the cited interview, also identified this CD as the first of her collection to come directly from her own point of view, without feeling any necessity to fulfill fan or media needs. Arie was able to achieve this newfound ability to write and sing songs without worrying about public opinion after a much-needed vacation to Hawaii. This CD was Arie’s first CD produced after her change from Motown to Universal Records.
- Arie performed a duet with rock singer-guitarist John Mellencamp on the song “Peaceful World” for his 2001 album Cuttin’ Heads.
- Arie performed a duet with jazz singer Cassandra Wilson on the song “Just Another Parade” for her 2002 album Belly of the Sun.
- On the September 12, 2005 premiere of The Tyra Banks Show, Arie performed “Just 4 2day”, a song she wrote especially for Tyra‘s show. She also performed “What About the Child”, a song that did not air but was made available as a one-dollar Internet download to support child victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
- Arie is also featured on Stevie Wonder‘s album A Time to Love, released on October 18, 2005. Arie and Wonder duet on the title track “A Time to Love”, written by Arie, which was nominated for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals” at the 2006 Grammy Awards. Three years earlier, their rendition of Mel Tormé‘s 1944 classic “The Christmas Song“, recorded for the holiday TV commercial for retailer Target, had been nominated for the same category, making it the first song created and financed exclusively for a commercial to be nominated for a Grammy Award.
- Arie performed a duet with Brazilian musician Sérgio Mendes on the title song “Timeless” for his 2006 album Timeless.
- Arie performed the vocals for “It Might Be You” on Dave Koz‘s 2007 album At the Movies.
- Arie collaborated with Akon for her song “I Am Not My Hair“. On the April 16, 2007 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show entitled “After Imus: Now What?”, Arie guest-starred as a panelist. She stated that she was not completely crazy about the duet partner, but the label suggested that it would make the album more commercial. Versions without Akon on the song were made available.
- Arie performed the song “She Is” for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, inspired by the PBS Independent Lens documentary Iron Ladies of Liberia.
- Arie performed “Self-Fulfilling” in duet with Beate S. Lech of Beady Belle on the band’s 2008 album Belvedere.
- Arie is one of over 70 artists singing on “We Are the World: 25 for Haiti“, a charity single in aid of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
- Arie performed a duet with Marc Cohn on the song “Make It With You” for his 2010 album Listening Booth: 1970.
- Arie contributed vocals to “Imagine” for the 2010 Herbie Hancock album, The Imagine Project along with Seal, P!nk, Jeff Beck, Konono N°1, Oumou Sangare and others.
- Arie collaborated with Idan Raichel to create a series of different songs including a performance at the Noble Peace Prize