It’s not surprising that Oprah Winfrey added India.Arie to her SuperSoul 100 list of visionaries and influential leaders. The Grammy winner is a refreshing straight shooter.
The R&B singer-songwriter will perform May 1 at the Carolina Theatre. Arie, 43, called from Nashville to discuss her long-awaited album, “Worthy,” which was released in February, and what musician comforts her most.
Here are nine things to know about Arie.
1. Why it took six years between albums.
“Yes, it’s been awhile since (2013’s) “Songversation” and “Worthy,” but I did put out a holiday album (2015’s “Christmas With Friends.”) and an EP (2017 “SongVersation: Medicine”). I took my time,” Arie says. “I didn’t see the point of rushing the album. Some times years go by without me releasing an album.”
2. Arie is an up mood, and that propelled her to make what is arguably her most positive album to date.
“I just feel really good right now,” Arie says. “I know there are some frightening things going on in our country and in the world but I have a feeling that things are going to get better. I have a feeling younger people will be more active and change what’s happening right now. I see a compassionate future.”
3. Why Arie won’t always reveal her identity to those she meets on the streets.
“When someone comes up and says, ‘Are you India Arie?” and I don’t know what they’re going to be about, I will probably say something like, ‘People mistake me for her all of the time,” Arie says while laughing. “However, if a real fan comes up to me and says, ‘I really like a song or an album I made,’ I’ll reveal that’s me and have a conversation with them. It’s always so nice to meet fans.”
4. North Carolina’s James Taylor plays the music that comforts her the most.
“I love his songs because he exudes so much warmth. I love ‘Carolina on My Mind,’” she said. “There is no one like James Taylor. I could see him again and again.”
5. Janelle Monae is a huge fan, and the feeling is mutual.
“I’m thrilled that I influenced anyone, but it’s so nice when it’s someone who is as gifted as her,” Arie says. “There are so many people that influenced me, and if I can have that effect on someone, that’s just amazing.”
6. Expect Arie to reinterpret some of her vintage material.
“Change is good and I’m looking forward to singing my older songs with a new voice,” Arie says. “I’m singing with a voice that fits where I’m at right now.”
7. It’s important for Arie to send a message with her music.
“Meaning in a song is significant for me,” Arie says. “Part of what I do is about social contribution. I’m compelled to make a difference in this world.”
8. Arie crafts a few love songs with each album, and she wishes there were more love songs out there.
“It’s sad,” Arie says. “Look at the love songs Donny Hathaway sung back in the day. Those songs still stand up. It depresses me when songs are about things. Cars and jewelry aren’t as important as love.
9. Arie has never altered her skin color.
“A few years ago there was a photo of me out there that apparently looked like my skin was a lighter shade,” Arie says. “I was accused of altering the color of my skin. For the record, I’ve never tried to change the color of my skin. But it is funny because when I tell people that I’m not me in public, sometimes I’ll hear, ‘Yeah, you’re not India Arie because her skin is lighter and she’s taller!’”
When: 8 p.m. May 1
Where: Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St., Durham
Tickets: $49.50 and $75.
Info: 919-560-3030 or carolinatheatre.org