Singer-songwriter India.Arie released The Grammy Award-nominated “Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship” in June 2006. She expected to have its successor out in short order, but it took nearly three years — and a difficult schism from her label, Motown Records.
“Motown really didn’t understand where I was going with this record, so the main thing I knew I needed to do for myself was to get off Motown,” says Arie (né Simpson, 33, whose father, Ralph Simpson, is a Detroit native and played basketball for Michigan State University and the Pistons, among others). “I was talking to my mom about it, and she said, ‘Well, they’re not going to just let you off, you know. Everybody wants to change labels.’ And I was like, ‘Fine, I’m not doing anything else, period, until I’m off that (label).
“It takes a lot of courage to do that. I didn’t have it at a certain point. I was scared of everything, so it was hard to get to the point where I knew what I had to do to extricate myself. Once I said that’s what I wanted to do, they did it right away ’cause they saw that I was for real.”
“Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics” came out in February and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 — and, Arie says, was “the quickest album I’ve ever made,” partly thanks to her label change.
“I made decisions about what I wanted to do instead of taking a step and having to say, ‘What do you guys think about that?’ ” Arie explains. “All that listening to the voices of people — everybody but myself — would take me back instead of moving forward.
“This time I knew what I wanted to do, and I kept going forward with exactly what I wanted to do and not attached to whether people were going to like it and what they thought about it. It was liberating.”
India.Arie and Raheem DeVaughn perform at 8 p.m. Friday (June 19) at the Chene Park Amphitheater, 2500 Atwater St. at Chene Street. Tickets are $55 and $37 pavilion, $22 lawn. Call (313) 393-7128 or visit www.cheneparkdetroit.com.
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