The genre of neo-soul has been largely discounted by even the folks who made it popular. Why call it neo-soul when artists like India.Arie, Musiq, Lauryn Hill, D’Angelo and Maxwell were just, after all, soul artists in the first place? In the case of India.Arie, though, the term may still apply.
Arie’s music is a combination of soulful musicianship but with a new-age message of love, empowerment and self-esteem that may be something we have yet to see before. Sure, Earth, Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder and others created music from a similar perspective but also from a male point of view.
On “The Songversation,” Arie’s latest, she continues with those themes, crafting soothing songs about being well loved like “Cocoa Butter” and mixing them up with anthems like her latest single “I Am Light.” Now Arie’s back on the road for the first time in four years and she says the audience is responding to her new music in a new way.
“The first show in Seattle was weird. Just adjusting to singing that long and being received different,” Arie told the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “Not elder statesmanship, but people are treating me with more reverence. It wasn’t like that four years ago, so I’m just adjusting to people crying on my shoulder and stuff like that. Someone touched my feel and it was a cute guy. I was like ‘Why cant’ ya’ll do this in real life?”
The new album and tour has caused even India to do some adjusting as both are reflective of a new attitude. The singer/songwriter turns 38 this week. She’s now been in the music business for over a decade since her breakthrough “Acoustic Soul” with its huge hit “Video” was released in 2001. That was followed by a humiliating Grammy night when India, nominated seven times, lost in every category she was nominated in. (She has since won four.)
So very early on in her career, she saw the contrasts the business had to offer and adjusted her mindset accordingly.
“I’ve been trying a lot of things… just different. Even my album cover was different. And just approaching shows different and getting outside of my box of who I thought I was.”
Arie takes her “Songversation” on tour this fall. Click here for tour dates.
Watch Irie’s latest “In-Studio Jam” here.