Passages from India

Songwriter India.Arie sings affirming lyrics of self-acceptance. She is what she is, and that’s just fine with the music industry and the fans.

By Dalia Wheatt
Published August 6, 2006

India.Arie  likes astrology, oversized jewelry and country music. And she doesn’t care what you think.

“I think it’s important to just be yourself and to know that some

If you go

India.Arie performs at7:30 p.m.
Thursday at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center in Tampa.
(813) 229-7827
Tickets are $19 to $45.

people are going to like you and some people won’t, and that’s okay,” the singer said in a phone call from her home in Atlanta. Turns out plenty of people like Ms. Arie just fine.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences likes her; she has been nominated for 12 Grammys. Tyra Banks likes her; Arie sings the theme to the former top model’s talk show. Stevie Wonder likes her; he invited Arie to team up with him on the title track of his latest album, A Time to Love.

And social outliers love her self-affirming lyrics and against-the-grain approach to music. In addition to the usual song topics — her desire for a relationship, a lover’s delectable lips — Arie sings of learning to love herself.

“I know my creator didn’t make no mistakes on me/My feet, my thighs, my lips, my eyes, I’m loving what I see,” she croons in Video, which became an anthem for self-acceptance when it was released in 2001.

And this guitar-strumming singer certainly doesn’t care what you think of her hair, whose evolution she chronicles in a number aptly titled I Am Not My Hair.

So what does Arie care about? What makes her feel beautiful? The answers are simple: Swimming in the ocean.

Riding a bike down the street. Wearing clothes designed and sewn by her mom. Performing.

“When I’m expressing myself authentically, I feel beautiful. I could just be lyin’ on the couch, and if I’m able to be honest about it — you know, authentic in that moment — it feels real good,” she said.

Arie makes this self-esteem thing look easy, but she admits she’s a work in progress. When she sings songs like Video and I Am Not My Hair, it’s as much for herself as it is for her audience.

“I wouldn’t call it convincing myself, but a lot of times I believe in what I’m saying, and other times it’s me affirming the highest vision for myself — not really trying to convince myself, but affirming the best that I can be,” she said. “We all want to be better in certain areas, but it doesn’t mean that you have to hate who you are.”

Dalia Wheatt can be reached at dwheatt@sptimes.com.