In her moving SuperSoul Session, India.Arie uses what she calls “songversation” to beautifully describe her journey from breakdown to breakthrough. “Songversation is not a concert,” she explains. “It’s not a lecture. It’s not a performance, even. This is a songversation. And a songversation is a practice that is part meditation, part prayer, part fellowship and part action.”
India.Arie was just 23 years old when she entered the music industry, hoping to find self-worth and healing. “Which is laughable now because the music industry is treacherous,” she says.
Still, she believed that earning success as a singer would help mend the wounds from her childhood. “I was sexually abused by several people by the time I was 12,” she says. “And my parents had an abusive relationship, so I saw horrible violence. And by the time I was 18 and I went away to college, I felt innately flawed and unlovable, really, and I walked through life with this ever-present undercurrent of melancholy.”
India.Arie enjoyed a quick rise to fame, but she found herself surrounded by people with their own agendas. “When I came into the music industry, I was put into a box based on race and gender. And they basically said, ‘You’re a black woman. And so this is what people will accept from you.’ And I stayed in that box until it began to hurt.”
Indie.Arie says that after she drifted into a downward spiral of isolation and depression, she finally reached her breaking point. “By the end of 2009, everything I was afraid of happening happened. I was humiliated onstage. I was sick. I was stolen from. And I hit rock bottom,” she says. “And I saw. I saw what needed to change—and it was me.”
Boldly, she decided to walk away from it all. “I looked my fear right in the eye and I tore my whole career down, my whole life down, down to the foundation,” she says. “And at this time, I’m 35 years old. I’ve released four albums; I’ve been in the music industry for 10 years. And I’m thinking, ‘It’s time to take a chance on the truth.'”