By Kelly D. Harrington
â€œI didnâ€™t know if I was going to make music anymore,â€ says a recently missing-in-action India.Arie. After selling more than 10 million albums worldwide, scoring 21 Grammy nominationsâ€”and winning fourâ€”in 2009, India Arie Simpson just stopped the music.
Four years later, she returns with her long-awaited fifth studio album, SongVersation, and Arie says, for the first time, she completely controls the when, where and how of her career, but it didnâ€™t come easy. Describing 2009 as â€œjust the worst year I could imagine,â€ she says, â€œI was at rock bottom careerwise and health-wise. I was working so hard and getting very little in return. I didnâ€™t know if I was going to make music anymore. I didnâ€™t know anything. I just knew that I wanted to have a life that felt good.â€
By applying some of the lessons of self-love and self-acceptance found in much of her own music, Arie turned a corner. â€œI really took the time to look at myself and look at my life and decide who I want to be, and not what anyone else wants,â€ she explains. â€œI learned who I am and understand that I am responsible for myself and for my life.â€ This new perspective has made aspects of the music business she once loathedâ€”long hours in the studio, doing press interviewsâ€” a lot more pleasurable. Sheâ€™s even putting out fires, like claims that her image was purposely lightened for the cover art of the albumâ€™s first single â€œCocoa Butter,â€ with more ease.
â€œSome people were really getting crazy and just being disrespectful and I wanted to snap back [but] I didnâ€™t,â€ she admits. The â€œBrown Skinâ€ and â€œI Am Not My Hairâ€ singer also understands from whence the anger comes. â€œIf it were true, and itâ€™s not, it would have been a huge betrayal because of my reputation and what Iâ€™m about,â€ she says. â€œThe black community has a certain ownership of me, and itâ€™s beautiful and Iâ€™m proud of that.â€