It’s been over 10 years since Grammy-winning #Soulbird India.Arie flew onto the scene with her debut album ‘Acoustic Soul’.
Since then, Arie has remained an anomaly – staying afloat on the wings of spiritually-tinged tunes like ‘Ready For Love’, ‘I Am Not My Hair’, and ‘Video’, her poetry-laced, guitar guided offerings kept her perched atop R&B and pop charts alike until the late 2000s when suddenly she was nowhere to be found.
Now, 2013 has brought with it a renewed voyage for India – one she shared openly when chatting exclusively with That Grape Juice recently. The songstress dishes on her new album ‘Songversation’, those skin bleaching rumors, her open letter slamming the Zoe Saldana casting of Nina Simone in an upcoming biopic, and so much more.
As ever, we ask the questions you want the answer to. Tuck in below for the full view:
India.Arie Shouts Out That Grape Juice!
That Grape Juice: Let’s have a conversation about ‘Songversation’, your new album! What’s kept you away for so long?
India Arie: I just went into a cocoon and had to get myself together. My life was distorted, my business was out of order, my health was not right and my whole lifestyle just wasn’t right for me.
I tore it all down and built it back up. ‘Songversation’ is the completion of that cycle.
That Grape Juice: How did you know now was the time to return and that “rebuilding” process was complete?
India Arie: I don’t think anyone is ever done [building], but I think things just come together naturally. This whole process started in the fall of 2009. So, between early 2010 and late 2012 I was working on another album called ‘Open Door’. I funded the whole thing and worked my butt off, but at the last second, it all fell apart.
India Arie (continued): I put it on the shelf and took a weekend to cry and figure out what to do next. Over that weekend in my prayer I heard that I’d come to far personally that the only part missing was the music so do it now. It was telling me to “do it now” and I remember praying out loud. Once I said that prayer I trusted that I would be guided, hear song titles, and put it all together really quickly without second guessing myself. Got it done in 7 months.
‘Songversation’ is the best thing I’ve ever done and it’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. A lot of that is because ‘Open Door’ did not come out.
That Grape Juice: Ok. And, that leads us to the smooth ‘Cocoa Butter’. Why did you feel it was the best way to reintroduce yourself to listening audiences?
India Arie: I didn’t choose it, the label chose it. I let them choose it and felt it was a good decision because it was a good bridge from what people remember me to be – which wasn’t always exactly what I meant to be seen as because you know the music industry that they accept from black artist – and what I was becoming.
I also did it in faith the other songs that are much more “me” would also be heard…and they are. I also got to tell the person I’ve become in the video.
TGJ: What about the follow-up single. Any hints?
India: We’re just about to do a video for ‘Just Do You’ next week.
TGJ: We look forward to it. Now, as with many interviews, we have a segment called “Five From Fans” where we received five questions from our readers for you. Are you ready?
TGJ: 1) Of all people you’ve collaborated, any dream collabos?
India: James Taylor and Bill Withers
TGJ: 2) You shared a fiery open letter slamming the casting choices of the forthcoming Nina Simone biopic last year. Do you still feel the same way?
TGJ: 3) With so many of your songs with spiritual theme, gospel or religious album?
India: Yes, I’d consider doing it. I think that it’s not just I have a lot of songs with spiritual themes, per se, but if there were a genre called “spiritual contemporary music”, it’s what I’d be. It was always my intention.
Doing a more religious album, though, for me would be something I’d probably do just because my grandmother would love it (laughs).
TGJ: 4) With so many of your songs being based on love, are you dating right now? If not, describe your perfect man?
TGJ: 5) Any chance we’ll get to hear the content of your shelved duet album ‘Open Door’?
India: There’s always a chance. But, I don’t know how that would happen. It doesn’t mean it won’t, but only if the business is right. Otherwise, I won’t do it. I love that music.
Photo courtesy: TMZ
TGJ: Now, as we’re sure you’ve been quizzed on a million times, tell us what really happened with the ‘skin bleaching’ debacle. When you first heard the news, what was your initial response?
Interview by: Quinno Rashad (That Grape Juice US)