While on Facebook, I see an ad in the border for India.Arie’s new single “Cocoa Butter.” I listen, love it, buy it on itunes, now I’m like what’s up with the album, or should I say CD… google, searching, what’s this? Accusations of India.Arie lightening her skin? This is ridiculous, absurd…
TMZ printed a quote from her people, reporting “that her “lightened” skin tone is the result of the camera flash and angle. And added that the singer never asked to be lightened. Nevertheless, the celebrity website makes the valid point that India approved the photo without correcting the color of her skin.” AND… yeah she approved it because the image matches the title of the song, because the photographer was going for that look in lieu of the song’s title and he made her look beautiful in the process. When I initially saw that it was India, I wasn’t even thinking of the shade she was being presented in. As I listened to the snippet, the image there before me reflected her as the shade of cocoa butter, but never for one moment did I think India had a desire to be considered something she’s not. The presentation is basic marketing, nothing more. Based on my direct personal interaction with India, I can… oh yeah, I’m on a first name basis with her… I can assure any one that is at liberty to read this that she didn’t think about the shade of the photo beyond it being appropriate for the song, at this stage in her career. There’s a multitude of photos taken over the years, presenting her in varying shades of brown.
India’s new record “Songversation”, due out on June 25th, marks the fifth studio recording for the singer. A four-time Grammy winner, it’s her first full-length release since 2009. Arie’s discography includes: “Acoustic Soul” (2001); “Voyage To India” (2002); “Testimony Vol. 1, Life & Relationships” (2006) and “Testimony Vol. 2, Love & Politics.”
The first time I saw India.Arie perform was at a music convention. A “music convention” is something that still exists today, but many of the dynamics have changed, while some remain the same. In any case, the one I saw her perform at was at some point during the 90’s. It was years before “Acoustic Soul” saw the light of day. During that time Motown was going through several transitions and India’s music and talent waited in the wings. While she waited, she honed her craft and was humbled by the due process of the “record business.” While she waited, I was waiting to hear the music of the young artist that was featured at a showcase at one of the last music conventions I would ever attend. Once her music was finally released, I had the opportunity to finally hear it, meet her, and subsequently interview her again and again as she and her music soared with songs like “Video,” “Little Things,” “Brown Skin,” “Pearls,” “Chocolate High” and “Imagine.” I’m honored to be among those that took part in her rise to success. As she continues to grow and evolve I wish only the best for her and feel she should only be reflected in a manner deserving of her character.
So just because it was a slow news day at TMZ or where ever this lack of consciousness began, that’s now streaming throughout the Internet, don’t incorporate the pride and vitality of India.Aire in your day-to-day bulls*it. India is an artist, a woman of substance, the spiritual Harriet Tubman of soul in music, in this latter day. A person who has more integrity in her pinky than the majority of today’s “journalists” and is not inclined to indulge the trifling. I’m insulted at the notion of the accusation and who ever started it should be ashamed – shame on you, because you apparently had nothing better to do. India is some one I have a rapport with and if the one who opted to slander her did as well, they would have never started this utter nonsense.
According to TMZ, India tweeted: “Personally speaking! i’m happy to say I have NOT BLEACHED my skin LOL! ROTF at the thought.” She added, “1. I wouldn’t endanger my health that way 2. i’m so in love with myself I have no DESIRE to BLEACH myself. 3. The GLOW you see IS (magnificent) lighting 4. THE LIGHT you see, Well that’s all ME!!” And that my friends is the end of that… UPDATE 10/ 11/ 14: I came across this interview looking for a trailer for the film “Nina” starring Zoe Saldana. Arie talks about the controversy around her photo with the Huffington Post https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0v0sA5w4go.
Here’s a photo TMZ pulled together on India’s “Cocoa Butter” cover and an image from 2012 to highlight the difference in her actual skin tone compared to that of the image for the single.
I’m looking forward to her new release “Songversation”, in the meantime, in the words of Public Enemy “Don’t Believe The Hype.”