I tweeted the following after seeing India.Arie perform Tuesday night at The Warfield in San Francisco:
Just in case you have yet to pick up India’s new album SongVersation, my last sentence is a reference to her song SoulBird Rise, which says in part:
“I will no longer be defined by
What someone else believes that I am
And now that I have dropped the weight
I am light as a feather
It’s time to elevate”
At that right there, is a great summation of the energy India radiated the entire evening.
Playing the parts of storyteller, singer and dancer, India clearly is a woman who has come through her journey of self-discovery, and according to her, “spiritual maturity,” stronger, wiser and more self-assured.
Looking light-hearted and free in all white, she opened the show with a singing prayer, followed by her first single, Video, and I Am Not My Hair. At the end of the song, she politely unwrapped her head scarf and revealed a short-cropped haircut.
Briefly leaving the stage, she returned brushing her newly cropped do, “First of all, that feels amazing! I just cut it off last week,” she said.
The rest of the night, India entertained the audience with songs from all five of her releases. Doing a quick melody of Simple, Interested, Little Things, The One and Yellow, she moved onto the full versions of Cocoa Butter and Back to the Middle.
During one of India’s many stories, she explained that Back to the Middle was co-written with Blue Miller, a man who has been a part of her career from the beginning. “My mom used to always say Blue is not black or white; he’s blue,” she said as the audience screamed his name. “And you guys just turned him red.”
One song that I will die believing was written about my life is Good Morning, which happens to be India’s jam as well. “I’ve come to understand by maturing as a woman, the greatest lesson of all is love. It’s the greatest blessing and the greatest lesson, but it’s what grows us up,” she explained as she led up to Good Morning.
“I never had a chance to tell anyone this – this next song took me about nine months to write, because I could not write a verse about being better until I walked through those stages of grief, and the death of that naivety of love. I mean, it took almost a year.
“This is my jam.”
Afterwards, she relayed another story about consulting with Bishop TD Jakes during her transition phase. “When I was going through this era of healing, just from the grief – like when you lose somebody that you love – not even through a death, you just lose somebody that you love because you don’t like them anymore. . . .”
I shouted a healthy “Amen” when she said that.
Anyway, the story continues with her conversation with Bishop Jakes. “He said, I love your song Talk to Her . . . because it’s really about the biggest issue in relationships, how people talk to each other.”
I was able to take some great videos of many songs (click on the links below), but one song in particular forced me to put the camera down so I could relish in the words. As I said in my review of SongVersation, Break the Shell is my new personal anthem, and I could feel tears welling up as she sang. I tried hard to hold them back, but they escaped at the end:
“Do with these words what you will
It’s time for us to be for real
You’ll be stuck on the ground until
You finally break the shell”
That’s called opening up and allowing a breakthrough to happen. 🙂
My other anthem is Just Do You. “You know how people can make you feel like you don’t belong unless you accomplish something, or unless you’re pretty . . . I wrote this song to remind myself that we are all worthy because we exist,” she said.
While she may not have sung every verse of all the songs she performed, India did enough to leave you satisfied. Including the interludes, there were 27 songs presented in two hours. I say, that’s pretty damn good.
Oftentimes, I leave concerts and rattle off songs I wish the artist would have done. (See my review of The Kings of the Mic Tour). Such was not the case after India’s show. She actually did a great job of hitting all the songs you would expect to hear.
I left feeling like India would make a wonderful sistagirlfriend. She personality comes across as one of humbleness, and I think she would definitely make a great addition to my small circle of sistagirlfriends.
Welcome back India. Your hiatus was well deserved, and as a fan, I’m grateful you continue to bless us with your messages of love, hope and positivity. There will always be a place for you and your music in this industry. Please don’t ever forget that!
Finally, if you’re reading this and India is coming to your city and you don’t have tickets to her show, do yourself a big favor and go buy them right now! I promise you it will be money well spent.
By the way, that little tweet I sent was re-tweeted by Ms. India herself!
Setlist: Video, I Am Not My Hair, Moved By You, Flowers, This Love, There’s Hope, Good Morning, Talk to Her, Break the Shell, Brother’s Keeper, Simple, Interested, Little Things, The One, Yellow, Cocoa Butter, Back to the Middle, Complicated Melody, The Truth, Just Do You, Brown Skin, SoulBird Rise, I Am Light (encore), Ready For Love (encore)