Date: February 5, 2009 Location: Unitel Studios, New York, NY
On an arctic New York night, Neo-Soul chanteuse India.Arie marked
her return to live performance with a taping for VH1s Soul Stage. With the
release date of her fourth disc Testimony: Volume 2, Love & Politics approaching, the two-time Grammy winner was beyond
excited. Im so happy to be
here! was the mantra for an evening where her word proved to be bond.
Gliding onto the small stage in a sleeveless black
turtleneck and dazzling full-length skirt, the newly shorn Arie kicked off her
ten-song set with fan favorite Video from her 2001 debut Acoustic Soul. Her stellar four piece band and three background
singers underscored the bonus of an additional verse for Video updated
with new lyrics that reflect her personal changes since the songs original
Arie chatted up the crowd on her creative process between
Grains, a sweet, harmony filled interlude included on Testimony: Vol. 2 and Ghetto, her ode to the commonalities of poor
areas worldwide. This is the first album where I see myself as I am right
now, she offered. This is world music.
This is actually a political song, Arie said before her
trio of background singers began harmonizing the opening notes of Chocolate
High, her duet with Musiq Soulchild.
A song can be sensual without
being sexual. Her male background singer proved a more than ample stand-in for
the missing Musiq and got the multi-hued crowd swaying in their seats.
Sandwiching new music between old, her background provided
the perfect blend to her alto dips on the classic Brownskin, given a
refreshing new arrangement with a healthy dose of heavy bass and keys. The
recent Presidential election wasnt overlooked in song as Arie gave a sparkling
rendition of Theres Hope, a song included on the playlist for CNNs coverage
of the latest Presidential election.
Continuing with her world music theme, Sades Pearls was
vocally injected with the rhythmic sounds of Africa without distracting from
the songs original sentiment. Joining
Arie on stage for the reggae-kissed Therapy, Morgan Heritages Gramps Morgan
backing vocals and appropriately placed chants of Oh between the choruses provided
the ideal combination to Aries airy, crisp vocals.
By the time she arrived at the song written by her mother,
Long Goodbye, India.Arie had nothing else to prove. Obviously never one to
rest on her laurels, midway through Ready for Love, Arie established her
skillfulness as a flutist, further demonstrating that her musical gifts were in
abundance and display for the evening. The audience was held hostage and
released by the voice of angel ready to soar again and they didnt seem
to mind one bit. **To get the latest AllHipHop Alternatives Features, follow us on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/AHHalternatives**