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India.Arie

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India.Arie, born India Arie Simpson on October 3, 1975, in Denver, Colorado.
She absorbed musical skill early in life, encouraged by both parents: her mother, Joyce, herself a former singer, and now India Arie’s stylist; and her father, former ABA and NBA basketball player Ralph Simpson (not former NBA star player Ralph Sampson, as has been mistakenly reported in some media). She had taken up a succession of musical instruments throughout her schooling in Denver, Colorado, but her interest in the guitar while attending the Savannah College of Art and Design led to a personal revelation 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.

Co-founding the Atlanta-based independent music collective GroovmentEarthseed (Groovement was the collective artists’ name and Earthshare was their independent label name), her one-song turn on a locally released compilation led to a second-stage gig at the Lilith Fair. Their Universal Records/Motown music scout spotted her and made an introduction to Motown CEO Kedar Massenburg. Sidestepping all the devices of flavor-of-the-month record-making, Acoustic Soul acquainted listeners with a brave and eloquent new voice, drawing an uncommonly broad swath of listeners from hip-hop, the so called neo-soul, blues, folk, and classic troubadour-style singer/songwriting, all at once. The album, released in 2001, debuted at number ten on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart and number three on the R&B album chart. Within months, without the concentrated radio play that typically powers pop and rap albums, Acoustic Soul was certified double-platinum.

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