India.Arie performs Oct. 12 at the Palladium Theater at St. Petersburg College.
ST. PETERSBURG – As part of the Ruth Eckerd Hall on the Road series, multi Grammy-winning singer/songwriter India.Arie will bring her Soulbird Presents A SongVersation with India.Arie 2013 North American tour to the Tampa Bay area on Saturday, Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m., at the Palladium Theater at St. Petersburg College, 253 Fifth Ave. N.
The tour comes in support of India.Arie’s acclaimed fifth studio album, “SongVersation,” released on Soulbird/Motown Records.
“SongVersation,” released June 25, has received rave reviews. The album is the artist’s fifth No. 1 on the Billboard R&B Album Chart and fifth top 10 debut on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. It’s also her first release following a self-imposed four-year hiatus.
“This is where I’ve been for the last four years,” said the singer in a biography provided by 42 West, a public-relations firm. “I’ve struggled most of my career to feel comfortable with how things were, how I was treated, the politics of the music industry. I needed to pull back from the public eye to ground myself and rebuild my life and career. It’s a process many of us go through: spiritual maturation, spiritual awakening, clearing out the old and starting anew.”
Success, departure and return
Born in Denver and later relocating to Atlanta as a teen, India.Arie went from singing under a tree in the park to the Grammy Awards stage over the course of five years.
“Acoustic Soul,” her debut album, was released in 2001. She earned seven nominations for her the double-platinum album which featured her first hit single “Video.”
In 2002, India.Arie followed up the successful debut with the platinum-selling “Voyage to India,” The album debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and boasted first-week sales of 109,000 copies. The album took Best R&B Album at the 2003 Grammy Awards and the single "Little Things" won "Best Urban/Alternative Performance.” Another song on “Voyage to India,” "Get It Together" went on to appear on several film soundtracks such as “Brown Sugar" in 2002 and “Shark Tale” in 2004.
In 2006, India.Arie released “Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship” which was followed in 2009 by the sequel “Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics.” The first album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200; the sequel debuted at No. 3.
By this time, India.Arie had garnered 21 Grammy nominations, four Grammys and 10 million albums sold – but something was wrong.
“In 2009 I let go,” said India.Arie in her biography. “I realized I had to seize the chance to make the career and life I wanted, not accepting what others wanted me to do. So I decided to retire, asking God to show me where I am supposed to be.”
Music did eventually come back into her life through a series of vulnerable songs she began writing for a self-funded new project called Open Door. But three years into the project, she shelved it.
“I was confronted by the same questions,” said India.Arie. “Who are you? How are you shaping the big picture of your life?”
Exhausted from writing and recording Open Door, the singer didn’t feel like doing another album. But instead of waiting another three years, she took a day to pray. Six months later she finished “SongVersation.”
“That was my first glimpse of a new resilience, of stepping into my power,” she said. “It’s about not having anything to prove except to simply express myself because it’s who I am – not as a means to an end. Chasing that and topping that is not me. It’s about being more me in both my life and career.”
India.Arie recently embraced the former by expanding Soulbird, her label imprint, into a multi-faceted company housing her other entrepreneurial endeavors: jewelry, apparel, merchandise, film and TV, music and book publishing. She’s also ready again for fans to hear India.Arie, the singer/songwriter.
“I wasn’t ready until now,” she said. “I love where things are on and offstage. I trusted my intuition through every line and note of every song on this album, following the flow. And the ease of the flow is always a sign that I am in the right place, doing the right thing. And that is all I’ve ever wanted. I created ‘SongVersation’ from that place.”