This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
“A lady ain’t what she wears, it’s what she knows.” In a music business filled with siliconed, spandexed and sculpted bimbos, those words from newcomer India.Arie are a breath of fresh air.
A 25-year-old Atlantan who didn’t pick up a guitar till after high school and only began writing songs a few years ago, Arie is emerging as the most promising black female artist since Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. Arie’s voice is sweet, sandy, supple and smoky; her songs are sensual R&B grooves, lightly funky and perfectly suited for late nights and candlelight; the arrangements are tastefully understated and intimately organic, with gently shimmering acoustic guitars and keyboards atop laid-back percussion. But it’s Arie’s lyrics that truly set her apart, balancing insecurity, idealism and pride in tracks like the sexy Brown Skin, the inspiring Strength, Courage & Wisdom and the magically hooky single Video, a daily affirmation for women everywhere: “I’m not the average girl from your video / And I ain’t built like a supermodel / But I learned to love myself unconditionally / Because I am a queen.” Indeed she is.