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*India Arie was born on this date in 1975. She is a Black singer, musician, and songwriter.
From Denver, Colorado, India, Arie Simpson was raised in Atlanta, where her mother moved India and her brother J'on after her divorce. Both parents, early in her life, encouraged her musical skills. Arie’s mother, Joyce, was a former singer and clothing designer who once opened for Stevie Wonder and Al Green, and her father, Ralph, was a professional basketball player. As a child, Arie sang in church regularly and played almost every instrument she could get her hands on. After picking up a guitar, however, she was inspired to create her own music and write her own songs.
According to a DNA analysis, she descends from the Mende people of Sierra Leone, the Krio people of Liberia, and the Fula people of Guinea-Bissau. Her mother made up the "Arie" part, and her first name was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, whose birthday she shares. She had taken up various musical instruments throughout her schooling in Denver, Colorado. Still, her interest in the guitar while attending the Savannah College of Art and Design led to a personal eye-opener 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. This recording acquainted listeners by drawing listeners from hip-hop, neo-soul, blues, folk, and classic troubadour-style singer/songwriting. The album was eventually certified double platinum. Arie followed the success of her debut in 2002 with the release of Voyage to India. She is also featured on Stevie Wonder's album A Time To Love.
Arie's third studio album was Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship, in 2006. It gave Arie her first number-one spot on the Billboard 200 and was her second chart-topper on the R&B charts. "I Am Not My Hair" was the most successful release from Testimony: Vol. 1. In a 2007 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show entitled "After Imus: Now What?" Arie was a guest panelist. Arie performed a duet with singer Anthony David for his song "Words" for his 2008 album Acey Duecy. Her 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 also identified this CD as her first to write and sing songs without worrying about public opinion after a much-needed vacation to Hawaii. The album was her first produced and released after she departs from Motown to Universal Records. Arie performed "Video" with British singer Adele at the 2009 VH1 Divas. 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 contributed vocals to "Imagine" for the 2010 Herbie Hancock album, The Imagine Project, along with Seal, Pink, Jeff Beck, Konono N°1, Oumou Sangare, and others. In 2010, she was a featured guest vocalist on Carlos Santana's version of The Beatles' song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" from his "Guitar Heaven" CD. The song also features Yo-Yo Ma on cello.
In 2012, she was featured in a campaign called "30 Songs/30 Days" to support Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book. In 2013, her fifth studio album, Songversation, was released. India Arie and Israeli musician Idan Raichel produced the album's first single, “6th Avenue.”
In June 2017, she announced the release of her first EP SongVersation: Medicine. It was preceded by the single "Breathe" and the new single "I Am Light," which was originally included on her 2013 Songversation album. She said the EP was "made to be listened to in a quiet time, prayer, meditation, Yoga. I wish these songs bring softness, clarity, calm, and inspiration."
In September 2018, she premiered her new single "That Magic." The song serves as the lead single from her sixth studio album titled Worthy, which was released on February 15, 2019.