India.Arie is not only a singer/songwriter in the vein of ’70s heroes like Bill Withers and Roberta Flack but also a spiritual seeker who invites fans along on her healing journeys, and it’s this balance between self-revelation and artistry that has won her a devoted following. Born India Arie Simpson in Denver in 1975, Arie lived there until her parents divorced; she moved to Atlanta with her mother at age 13. She didn’t take music seriously until after school, when she began playing guitar. With her acoustic sound and preternaturally warm and welcoming voice, Arie quickly found community in the Groovement art collective in the 1990s. She was invited to play at the Lilith Fair in 1998—the same year that Lauryn Hill released her smash solo debut—and Motown signed her soon after, no doubt eager to mimic Hill’s success. Their investment paid off when her debut album, 2001’s Acoustic Soul, took off on the strength of the female-empowerment anthem “Video”. Though less hip-hop-aligned than some of her neo-soul contemporaries, Arie spoke to fans hungry for authenticity; the album was certified double platinum within months. Her sophomore effort, 2002’s Voyage to India, was similarly successful—but Arie struggled through the ensuing years with industry veterans who urged her to mute her messages. Instead, Arie has stuck to her truth and shown just how versatile she is, collaborating with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, the Turkish singer Sezen Aksu and country band Rascal Flatts (2006’s “Summer” is a fast-moving, rootsy revelation). In 2019, she returned to gorgeous form with Worthy, a clutch of emotional, inspiring acoustic songs.
BORN03 October 1975