'Acoustic Soul' was released on this day (March 27th) in 2001.
If you need an album to cheer you up during this bleak time of uncertainty, look no further than American R&B artist India Arie's debut studio album Acoustic Soul - her stunning first release on Motown Records released 19 years ago today.
India.Arie - Acoustic Soul
India Arie worked with producer Mark Batson on this inimitable record, who went on to win awards for his work with Eminem and Beyonce. It's no surprise that it made the top 10 in the Billboard 200, thanks to singles like Video and Brown Skin, which remain her most successful songs to date in the US and UK respectively.
Video interpolates the song Fun by 70s funk band Brick, and it's all about recognising your beauty and loving yourself despite not always being well-groomed and well-dressed with a catwalk physique. It's safe to say the relevence has not withered over time. If it was released today, you'd think it was stripped down Lizzo song. Brown Skin is, as you'd probably guess, an ode to India's love of dark skin. It's a beautiful love song to the African-American form which, again, holds up after nineteen years.
That's the beauty of this sensational album; you'd be hard-pushed to pick out a track that has aged badly. In fact, the whole thing fits wonderfully into the New Age obsession of this generation with its themes of balance, spirituality and nature.
There are also three tracks - entitled Intro, Interlude and Outro - where India lists a number of deceased jazz, blues and soul singers (as well as family members) in remembrance, which kind of makes Acoustic Soul the perfect memorial album.
The album also featured the bonus track Wonderful which she dedicated to her idol Stevie Wonder, with whom she would go on to collaborate on a number of tracks such as their 2002 rendition of Christmas Song (Chestnuts on an Open Fire) and his song A Time to Love from his 2005 album of the same name. He also co-wrote her song Private Party from 2006's Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationship.
Acoustic Soul, unfortunately, didn't get the awards it deserved, but it was nominated for Album of the Year and Best R&B Album at the Grammys, with Video also landing four nominations, and India Arie herself was additionally nominated for Best New Artist.