- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 16, 2002

INDIA.ARIE
Voyage to India
Motown
It's been quite an emotional roller coaster ride for singer-songwriter India.Arie since her debut album "Acoustic Soul" was released in March 2001. She quickly went from a complete unknown to a Top 10 artist on the Billboard chart. Everyone was buzzing about the new artist who had been given a rare "stamp of approval" as a true musical talent by Stevie Wonder himself. She was a quadruple threat: strong, soulful voice; spiritual, sassy and fiercely opinionated lyrics; talented guitarist; and beautiful looks.
Soaring from the 7 Grammy nominations her debut album received, she took a disappointing plunge after not taking even one award home. It would be enough to mess up anyone's head. But India.Arie stayed on course, and continues her journey toward self-discovery with her sophomore album, "Voyage to India," which was released Sept. 24.
India.Arie has stayed true to herself, once again allowing personal experiences and observations to shape her music. This time, instead of interludes paying homage to past influences, she focuses on growth, healing and gratitude.
While she could now face a backlash from those who deem her positive, spiritual approach too preachy, the reality is India.Arie's music and lyrics are insightful and many times articulate the frustrations and concerns most of us face in love and family relationships and in getting to know ourselves.
Who hasn't agonized about that someone they just know is meant to be their soul mate?In "The One" she delivers a soulful '70s-feeling ballad that tenderly begs such a man to "explore the possibility" that she might be the one for him.
"Talk to Her," another standout on the album, advises men to look at the big picture when they communicate with the women in their lives:"When you talk to her, talk to her like you want somebody, to talk to your mother. Don't get smart with her, have a heart to heart with her, just like you would with your daughter"
In "Little Things" her first single from the album, she expresses that it's the seemingly small gestures that make the biggest impact in our lives: "Simple as a phone call just to make it known that you're gonna be a little late. pure as a kiss on a cheek and a word that everything will be okay"
"Little Things" was one of many songs India.Arie performed Nov. 8 in the District at DAR Constitution Hall as part of a 27-city theater tour with Slum Village & Floetry. If you haven't seen India.Arie perform live you've missed out on an even more musically wonderful experience. She does not disappoint and leaves no question as to the depths of her talent. Her voice floats effortlessly but passionately above her guitar chords and many times you find her getting as caught up emotionally in the lyrics as her fans do.
There is less vocal and musical variety in "Voyage" compared to her first album, which is probably the album's only downside. Regardless, the CD still stands up to most of the music being offered these days. As she won't return to the District this year, it's definitely worth the trip to the music store to add "Voyage to India" to your CD collection.
Morenike J. Efuntade

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Put Your Hands Up! The TributeConcert to Chuck Brown
(Raw Venture)
This album should be issued to new District residents at the Department of Motor Vehicles and piped into the Metro. The sound of go-go has long been at the heart of D.C.'s music scene and this rambunctious concert tribute to founder, Chuck Brown taped at the 9:30 Club is as good an introduction as any to some of the area's best go-go practitioners, including EU featuring Sugar Bear and Ju Ju, Back Yard and 911.
The bass and drum-heavy funk sound not quite hip-hop, not quite rhythm and blues has largely remained a local phenomenon, only occasionally making leaps into the musical mainstream before disappearing again.
EU, which became a one-hit wonder with "Da Butt" back in the late 1980s, kicks off the two-disc set (also available in DVD) with an energetic "Let the Party Begin" before transitioning into a cover of the Jackson Five classic "I Want You Back." Spontaneous covers and musical leaps are all around, all anchored by the constant go-go beat.
Back Yard does a soulful take on Baltimore boy Sisqo's "Thong Song" that has five times the soul of the original. Even Mr. Brown gets into the act with a spirited take on Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's monster hit "Get Ur Freak On."
His performance takes over one full disc, with stellar run-throughs of "Mister Magic," "Get Your Hands Up" and a three-song medley of "It Don't Mean A Thing," "Midnight Sun," and "Moody's Mood." Seek it out, celebrate D.C.'s colorful music heritage and better yet try and see Mr. Brown live.
Derek Simmonsen


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