Quantcast
"She’s not about the material, but the spiritual... Actually, our marketing research tell us it’s all about the head-wrap."
——Kedar Massenburg, Motown Records President/CEO

MOTOWN BREATHES FRESH ARIE

India.Arie’s "Acoustic Soul" Is Label’s Passage To Success
Looks like Motown Records President/CEO Kedar Massenburg has pulled another neo-soul diva out of his hat.

Denver-born, Atlanta-based singer/songwriter India.Arie—named after Mahatma Gandhi's birthplace because her due date was his birthday—follows in the footsteps of the label's Erykah Badu with a breakthrough debut, "Acoustic Soul," that last week debuted in the Top 10, with more than 70k in sales.

India.Aire broke out of the Atlanta club circuit to play the Lilith Fair second stage in 1998 before being signed by Motown a year later.

Massenburg says the fact that India.Arie's album came after hits from Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott and Badu makes her retail bow "a tremendous success." The label's two-year set-up was a gamble, but according to the Motown chief, "If you don't take risks, you don't affect change. My niche has always been stuff that doesn't sound like anybody else—and then to market it from the grassroots on up. People want something fresh, but at the same time, familiar, and this album is filled with songs and hooks."

  • The first single, "Video," has been strong at both Urban and Crossover radio since its February release. "We wanted the initial track to have a hip-hop flavor to it, which is why there's a sample from Akinele's ‘Put It In Your Mouth,'" says Massenburg. "It was important to draw the kids in and then take them to the next level, where we can introduce them to the roots of the music."
  • The video is on MTV (where she was named "Buzzworthy-.com"), VH1, MTV2 (she was featured on "You Heard It First," hosted "The Soul Show" and appeared "Unplugged" with an acoustic version of "Back To The Middle") and BET (Bet.com tapped her as an "Artist To Watch" in 2001).
  • Online sites like DailyDiva, SisterFriends and UrbanJoint spotlighted the artist early on, while Motown sent out a musical e-card as viral marketing.
  • India.Arie has TV appearances slated for Leno on Wednesday (4/11), Letterman (May 22) and a strong "SNL" possibility.
  • She will open for Maxwell on tour in May.
  • As for the appeal of artists like India.Arie, Scott, Hill and Badu, Massenburg points to female artists' increasing desire to bare their souls—and sexuality—in self-expression. He says it's the type of imaging that must come naturally, not through record company hype.

"It was very important for India.Arie to come across as a natural, girl-next-door type," he concludes. "She's not about the material, but the spiritual... Actually, our marketing research tell us it's all about the head-wrap."

REPUBLIC UPS GOLDSTEIN, ROPPO TO CO-PRESIDENTS
Team Lipman doubles up. (11/26a)
MAYBE, JUST MAYBE:
HOLIDAY CHEER IS HERE
Season's bleatings (11/23a)
COUNTRY GRAMMYS' ROOTS ARE SHOWING
Deck the Grammys with boughs of Holly. (11/24a)
THE BRITISH
ARE COMING
Rolling out our U.K. Special print issue (11/24a)
AND THE GRAMMY NOMINEES ARE...
Olivia, the Biebs, H.E.R., Doja Cat, Billie and Jon Batiste lead the way. (11/24a)
TURKEY
Basting.
STUFFING
Stuffing.
YAMS
Candying.
PUMPKIN PIE
Stuffing (in face).
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)