India touches on an issue that frankly I am still bitter about: Music Industry politics. In addition, the controversial issue that noone talks about is that Alicia Keys, the girl from DC, and Rihanna are the prototype for black women at high profiled award shows, however the Indias, Jill Scotts, and Angie Stone's are often backdoored. This century may be a big step for brown people but I suspect dark brown people will continue to be shafted. Here's India's views:
[ON LOSING TO ALICIA KEYS 7 TIMES AT THE GRAMMY IN BOTH THIER FRESHMAN YEARS]
"I never felt anything like that. I didn't know that energy existed. As an artist in the music industry, we hold this place, like, this is the night when the music is going to speak. When in reality there is an unspoken truth in this business that just like everything else, money talks. If you get more marketing dollars, more promotion, more people know who you are.
......Then there's the way [rappers] Common and Kanye West use my name — '[They] tried to India Arie me.' I don't like my name being a verb. I don't like people saying they're being India Aried — not being recognized for your talent. I'm not playing the victim. I'm being myself. I want India Arie to mean the person who likes to talk.
I'm clear on the fact, though, that being in that position [her first year at the Grammys] makes the person who can say this now. I don't want to alienate anyone. I just wanted to speak my truth. Have a public conversation. I'm not trying to alienate; even though I know it's out of my hands now as to whether I do or not.
[ON WINNING TWICE IN HER 2ND YEAR BUT IT NOT BEING TELIVISED AS THEY HAVE FOR ALICIA KEYS, THE GIRL FROM DESTINY'S CHILD AND EVEN RIHANNA]
It's funny, the following year, I still wanted it. I got my album out in time [to qualify]. I put my album out very quickly — which to this day I say I will never do again. I was scared that the next year I wouldn't be nominated. Scared about how people saw me.
[I won but it wasn't televised} So I still felt like I hadn't achieved this goal. It still wasn't complete in that area. Every artist wants to win, walk down the aisle, give the acceptance speech on TV — that's part of the ritual everybody wants. But that's also when I learned, I need to change my attitude. I won like back-to-back, and in between my first one and the second I saw one of the Funk Brothers — and he was so excited! He was like, 'After 30 years, I can't believe it! After 30 years!' It helped me put it in perspective: There are people who wait 30 years for this recognition. Come on!
[ON ANNOUNCING SHE WOULD BOYCOTT THE GRAMMYS AT THE IMAGE AWARDS]
[ON IF SHE'S JUST BITTER]
With each year I became more educated about what was going on and now that I understand what it is, and where to hold it, I didn't really want to go to the Grammys this year. More than that, in my personal growth process, that's just where I am. The older I get, I find myself saying things that are — I still care what people think — but feeling good inside matters more than what someone thinks.
So at the Image Awards I told [her co-presenter] backstage 'I'm just going to throw something up in there'. He said 'OK.' I said what I said. And then, 'Now the nominees for best drama ...' "
The time to have sour grapes would have been the year after the shutout, not however many years later.
...I just would like to see more people allowed access to that prestige — the Grammys! — based on the merit of their word. Yes, the Grammys are important. That prestige means more money to do whatever you need to do: Raise a family, continue your craft. ... I'm clear in the fact that I am in a very rare position. I know [Atlanta R&B singer] Donnie. I know Tony [who records under the name Anthony David and is another promising local singer who has yet to have Arie's mainstream success]. I know the difference. I just want to see more people like them have that access.
And you know, there's a black man [running] for president. Why can't we just have a TV show with that kind of [Grammy] prestige, that offers that kind of access, that is commercially viable? I would love that.
[SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO GIVE THE GRAMMYS CREDIBILITY]
I think people should only vote on the categories of music they listen to. I think, among artists, we should make a pact that I'm going to listen to anything I vote on. I want a show where you can have [multi-Grammy winners] Alicia Keys and Chaka Khan, [and relative newcomers] Chrisette Michele and Ledisi all on the same show, performing together. How hot would that be? What I really want is a whole new show with those kinds of things happening, with that kind of prestige, that gets to be 50 years old like this one.
[WITH THE IMAGE AWARDS] I like what they represent — people who are normally not in the spotlight in that way, people who are not normally recognized who should be. ... I don't normally win there, either — all those people who think I'm just being sour. But that doesn't bother me. I like what they represent. I like that that's the place where you can hear Hill Harper give a great acceptance speech."