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Heart, soul and social issues during a "SongVersation"
with an R&B singer/songwriter

The Venue at Hosreshoe Casino
Hammond, IN
November 16, 2013
India.Arie India.Arie

Story by Andy Argyrakis
Publicity photos

Five albums into her ten million album selling career, acoustic siren India.Arie continues to make bold social statements overflowing with personal and musical soul. It's no wonder why her "SongVersation" tour at the sold out The Venue At Horseshoe Casino (just a half hour south of downtown Chicago) was filled with a mixture of stories and songs that placed equal emphasis on the music and the messages contained therein, all assisted by a nimble five piece band and two heaven sent background singers.

Though the Atlanta-based singer/songwriter has definitely developed her own style since debuting in 2001 with "Acoustic Soul," it's clear the somewhat underrated but nonetheless multiple Grammy Award winner is still influenced by all greats spanning Motown through neo-soul. The opener "I Am Light" served as a prayer for becoming one's best self, the funky "Video" took pride in individualism, the stirring ballad "Moved By You" poetically articulated nature's grandeur, while "One" urged unity amongst the world's religions, who despite their differences, often times are embarking upon similar quests for love and peace.

All the while, the pitch perfect Arie blended sultry and sunny grooves that have landed her radio airplay on a few occasions, though never at the expense of saying something with substance. For instance, "I Am Not My Hair" took the issue of never judging someone simply by their looks, while "Brown Skin" celebrated the body's beauty. Another highlight was "Brother's Keeper," a rhythmic tribute to fatherhood, brotherhood and friendship dedicated to the fellas in the mostly female audience, through the real show stealer was a duet with Arie's own equally gorgeous and vocally pristine mother throughout the spirit elevating "Soulbird Rise."

At 38, the troubadour has crossed the threshold from a newcomer to a firmly established R&B star, who clearly settled into her personal skin after a season of tremendous testing and subsequent healing, as she candidly revealed to the crowd. And considering her audience continues to expand alongside the authentic subject matter and fresh sounds, this "SongVersation" is likely to continue well beyond a single album and show, but be an ongoing dialogue throughout a meaningful and lengthy career.

Related articles:

India.Arie (Music Midtown) - Festival review - Atlanta, GA May 2003

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