Having ushered in the holiday season performing in the all-star concert staged during the 84th annual Hollywood Christmas Parade (airing Dec. 11 on The CW; 8 p.m. ET/PT ), India.Arie is preparing to spread even more yuletide cheer. The Grammy winner will kick off the Christmas With Friends tour on Dec. 13 in Boston. The seven-city run, with guest Jonathan McReynolds opening five of the dates, is in support of India.Arie’s same-titled first holiday album.
Inspired by jazz icon Joe Sample, Christmas With Friends (Soulbird/Motown) features the late pianist’s work on four of its 10 tracks, including the mood-setting opener “Let It Snow.” Tori Kelly, Billboard Women in Music Breakthrough Artist, accompanies Sample on “Favorite Time of Year,” a song co-written by India.Arie’s mother. Among the other friends Indie.Arie gathered for the project are Motown labelmate Kem (“Have Youself a Merry Little Christmas”), Brandy (“Sllent Night”), Michael McDonald (“Merry Christmas Baby”), and Dave Koz and Trombone Shorty (“I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”). On Billboard‘s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Christmas With Friends hit No. 13 on the chart dated Dec. 19.
“I sent several songs to each person and said do what you feel,” says India.Arie of the album’s selections.
A longtime fan of Sample’s, India.Arie sowed the seeds for an eventual collaboration during their first meeting at the 2012 Curacao Jazz Festival. Two years later, the pair began recording the holiday album. Sadly, Sample passed away before the album was finished.
“Joe’s chord voicings were one of the things that was special about his playing,” says India.Arie. “His piano playing was so nuanced and delicate, it made me want to sing in a way that would complement his aesthetic. I just want people to take in the emotional tone of the whole album: it’s a deep, good feeling.”
In addition to the Christimas With Friends tour, India.Arie will guest on the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Morning Show during the week of Dec. 14. Later in the month, she will appear on an episode of Tavis Smiley’s PBS show.
Christmas With Friends Tour Dates:
12/13 – Boston, MA @ Wilbur Theatre
?*12/14 -Washington, DC @ Howard Theatre
*12/15 – New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre?
*12/17 – Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Sound Stage
12/18 – Glenside, PA @ Keswick Theater
*12/20 – Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall
*12/21 – Nashville, TN @ Schermerhorn Symphony Center
* with special guest Jonathan McReynolds