Four-time Grammy Award winner India.Arie will bring her laid back acoustic R&B to the Reichhold Center for the Arts on Saturday.
Arie is best known for her uplifting and empowering anthems like “Video” and “I Am Not My Hair.” Her songs preach acceptance and encourage women and men alike to “love themselves.”
“My mission is to spread love, healing, and joy through words and music,” Arie said during an interview with the Source on Wednesday.
Since her debut in 2001, Arie has successfully preached this message both as a musician and as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, traveling to Africa several times to help address the AIDS epidemic.
She strongly believes that music can positively affect the world. As a songwriter, she describes herself “deeply spiritual.”
“It’s not like ‘Oh, I hope it makes you feel good,’” she said. “I pray—literally pray—healing intentions into my music.”
“I don’t know what happens with it. I don’t know,” she continued. “I pray and trust God will do it.”
Arie said she did not know about the various crises facing the territory before scheduling the tour date, but she’s thankful to be bringing her music and message to the islands at a time like this.
“I’m not there to make people dance or anything,” she said. “I’m there to help.”
She added that she felt humbled that people would buy a ticket to her show during a time of uncertainty.
Those who attend the show will see a transformation in her music, she said. In 2009 Arie fired her business staff and took more personal control of her career.
“The image of it in my mind was I had built this big building with windows and furniture and everything,” she said. “And I tore the building down and dug up the foundation and started over.”
She was being told “you can’t say this in a record or you can’t say that,” Arie said, adding that she never said things she didn’t want to say, but she would edit herself and not say a lot of things she did want to say.
The process has been liberating and has transformed her music, she said.
Since 2009 she thinks she’s become more bold and honest with her lyrics. Arie said she’s also been free to take risks with her career.
Her first CD since the shake-up will be a departure from her previous work. Scheduled for release this summer, Arie describes the record as a world music album rather than R&B.
Open Door is a collaboration with Israeli musician Idan Raichel and will feature Arie singing in Hebrew on many tracks.
“I’ve never even sung in French or Spanish before,” she said with a laugh, adding that the challenge has been refreshing.
Her concert on St. Thomas is not part of a promotional tour for the new album, but she said she will try out as much of her new material as the crowd wants to hear.
Though different from her previous work, Arie said she loves the new album and is eager to share it with the world.
“I’ve never been as proud of my career as I am now,” she said. “I’m doing what I want to do and I’m not letting anybody edit me.”