with Melissa Polinar
Thursday, May 23 at 8 p.m.
Humanitarian and soulful singer/songwriter, India.Arie’s message of healing, love and compassion, viewed through the lens of her indelible artistry and spiritual practice, has made her a global difference-maker for nearly two decades.
It was 2001’s seminal Acoustic Soul (nominated for seven GRAMMYs) and the groundbreaking self-acceptance anthem “Video,” that established her as a bold, new transformative force in music. Twenty-two GRAMMY nominations later (with four GRAMMY wins), she endures as one of the most empowering artists in music history (she launched her own lifestyle/music brand SoulBird in 2011), notching multiple award-winning albums and influential, chart-topping singles, meshing soul, folk, pop, R&B and hip hop and redefining the boundaries of the socially conscious singer/songwriter.
Also among her accomplishments and accolades are 10 world tours, millions of records sold, five Top Ten albums (including her #1 debuting 2006 release, Testimony: Vol.1, Life & Relationship), numerous NAACP Image Awards, BET Awards, MTV Awards, command performances for three US Presidents (receiving public praise from President Clinton and President Obama) as well as working alongside her mentor Stevie Wonder—including sharing the stage in his history-making 2014-2015 Songs In The Key Of Life Tour.
India’s willingness to challenge preconceived notions of beauty and sexuality, coupled with her courage to defy broad racial and gender categorizations, has made her a music industry trailblazer. Honored to be cited as an influencer, she recalls the sage advice imparted to her by her music idol Stevie Wonder when she was just beginning her career. Says India, “Stevie Wonder was my blueprint. I’ll never forget one night we were backstage at the House Of Blues in L.A. and he urged me to always embrace everyone.”
This year, India delivers her eighth album, the 16-track Worthy. She points to the title song as containing teachable moments even for herself.
“There’s a part in the song that says ‘worthy of love, light, worthy of saying no when something don’t feel right’. I really wanted to say ‘me too,’ when I was writing it because that’s what the song is really about. For anyone who has ever been let down or abused or hurt by someone the natural inclination is to feel guilty. But the truth is the things that happened to you are more of a commentary on the abuser. They don’t define who you are. Sometimes people aren’t going to respect you or treat you well because of their misguided notions about how to conduct themselves. Nobody is ever going to hand you your empowerment. You have to cultivate it from inside of you. That’s really what the concept of this album is all about. Even the love songs are saying I am worthy of LOVE. It’s saying I’m worthy of my voice. My truth. Taking up space in this room and being a force for good in the world around me. One of my favorite spiritual teachers says ‘if it’s not a hell yeah – it’s a hell no!’ I love that because I’ve been in many, many circumstances in the past where I was coerced into things and I was talked out of following my intuition. WORTHY is about saying ‘hell yes’ to knowing you are significant and that you matter because you exist. There’s nothing special we have to do or be…we just are WORTHY.”