India.Arie is hoping the successful reception for “Songversation,” her first album in four years, will open the door for the one that got away.
Prior to recording “Songversation” — which made a Top 10 debut on the Billboard 200 and the R&B Albums charts — Arie recorded another album called “Open Door,” on which she collaborated with Israeli artist Idan Raichel.
|India.Arie in 2009|
“I spent three years on that album,” Arie tells Billboard. “I funded most of it with my personal money, but I learned a big lesson about being able to let go. And I knew I had to let (‘Open Door’) go because we could not agree on the business part. If the business wasn’t in order, the album would have been a failure; I’m clear on that. So I was like, ‘I’m not doing this. I shelved it in late October of 2012, and on Nov. 1 I started working on ‘Songversation.'”
Nevertheless, Arie remains proud of “Open Door” and the different musical direction it took her in.
“‘Open Door’ was a world music project, and bilingual,” she explains. “It was in Hebrew and English, and it’s great. I do think it’s really beautiful. But it’s very emotional and very dark — in a good way.”
Now Arie is hoping that by first releasing “Songversation,” which features a heavy Turkish influence via collaborations with Sezen Aksu, she may actually done a greater service to “Open Door.”
“I feel like on a creative and musical level, my audience will be more ready for it,” Arie says. “It’s different for me, but I think people will be more interested now, after (‘Songversation’). I still don’t know if we’ll be able to come to business terms, but I hope the mythology of having that great lost album will maybe help open some doors, because I would love for people to hear it.”
Meanwhile, Arie is happy people are hearing “Songversation” — and that she’s still making music at all. Even while working “Open Door” the singer-songwriter says “a lot of different aspects of my life were in the ‘cocoon’ phase” as she dealt with “career stuff, health stuff, spiritual and emotional stuff, family stuff. I just went to a very deep place of healing with all of it. I knew it was time for me to get it together.” And for a period of that time, Arie adds, she almost opted out of music entirely.
“I really was going to go back to college and just have a life that was in order,” says Arie, who would have studied philosophy and creative writing. “For me that meant leaving the music industry. I was like, ‘Why not?’ But my I realized that it didn’t mean that, that it really meant being real about my music and my life and being real about how I wanted to approach things as a musician and just as person who’s navigating the music business. My music called me back, and I’m glad I listened.”