India Arie readies 5th effort with Israeli singer

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — On India Arie’s last album, she blended a world music sound with her signature style of soul. She’s planning to take things to the next level on an upcoming CD with Israeli singer Idan Raichel.

“I always go different (and) I went even farther,” India Arie said in a recent interview.

The album, “Open Door,” will be released this summer. It will feature songs in Hebrew and English, though India Arie doesn’t know Hebrew, explaining that Raichel “teaches me the translation.”

While vacationing in Israel, the 34-year-old singer asked locals who the most influential political singer-songwriter was in town.

“Everybody said, ‘Idan Raichel, Idan Raichel — same name all the time,’” she recalled. “So I just went to his little apartment, I heard his music and was like, ‘That’s my music!’”

Raichel, the dreadlocked composer who uniquely blends Israeli, Ethiopian, Yemenite and Latin sounds, is mainly known for his role in the group The Idan Raichel Project. The Project has some 90 revolving members from Sudan, Uruguay, Colombia and Rwanda. They sing primarily in Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic and Swahili, and bandmates range in age from 16 to people in their 80s.

The Project burst onto the Israeli scene in 2002 and has released three successful albums.

India Arie and Raichel, 33, can been seen in a YouTube video for their song, “Gift of Acceptance.” The two performed the tune in December at the Nobel Peace concert in honor of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo in Oslo, Norway. They also held special concerts in Los Angeles and Atlanta to promote the upcoming CD.

“People were crying and (there was) a lot of good feedback,” said India Arie, who is also planning an international tour with Raichel.

“Open Door” will be the soul singer’s fifth CD. Her first three albums were multiplatinum, platinum and gold successes. But 2009’s “Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics” didn’t match her previous efforts, only selling 320,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Though the disc may — or may not — be a hit for the multiple Grammy winner, India Arie says she’s not concerned with album sales, thanks to the encouraging support from family, friends and fans.

“My family especially, they’re like, ‘Oh my god India, why are you doing this? We don’t know who’s going to buy it,’” she recalled.

“My mom cries every time she hears the songs,” she continued. ”…They kept saying stuff like, ‘This is you, but different. It’s almost like you can do anything, but it’s still you.’”


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.