Born with the last name Simpson (her mother made up the “Arie” part, and India later discovered it means “lion”) and a first name inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, whose birthday she shares, India Arie was blessed with two talented parents. Her mother Joyce was a former singer and clothing designer who once opened for Stevie Wonder and Al Green and her father Ralph was a professional basketball player.
Arie was born in Denver, Colorado but raised for the most part in Atlanta, where her mother moved India and brother J’on after her marriage ended in divorce. A talent for music was apparent in her teenage years, as Arie sang in church on a regular basis and played almost every instrument she could get her hands on. It was after picking up a guitar however, that Arie was inspired to create her own music and write her own songs.
Arie enrolled in the Savannah College of Art and Design after high school and studied music and jewelry design, but the call to perform was strong. She soon dropped out to play her music full time.
She co-founded a collective for artists in Atlanta, Groovement/Earthseed, and their independent compilation led to performances at Lilith Fair tour stops in St. Louis and Nashville. She developed a loyal audience on the Atlanta music scene by the time she was scouted by Motown Records in 1999. Arie took her time making her first record with the label and had to stand her ground to create her music, her way. She won out in the end and can now call her own production shots.
Her second album is slated to hit stores in the fall of 2002 and hot on the heels of the platinum Acoustic Soul, which spawned the hits “Video” and “Ready For Love,” promises to be a major success. Despite the accolades however, Arie is content to live a simple existence.
It seems as though for the time being, money and fame have not changed her sense of reality. She still maintains a residence outside of Atlanta with her mother and stepfather, drives a 1995 Toyota and styles her own hair. Her intention from the start was to create her own music and share it with the world, in the mold of her mentors Wonder, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor.