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India.Arie's Voyage

The Early Show, India.Arie
CBS/The Early Show
Few artists today touch people in a way they find truly meaningful and life-affirming, but, as her legions of fans can attest, India.Arie does just that.

The singer visited The Early Show to perform some of her biggest hits, including "Interested," from her latest Grammy Award-winning album, "Voyage to India."

India.Arie's debut album, "Acoustic Soul," took the nation by storm two years ago and received seven Grammy Award nominations as a result of songs such as "Strength, Courage, and Wisdom" and "Video."

India.Arie says, "I've been formulating a mission statement and it still changes a little bit. Right now the mission statement, which is my inspiration, is using the power of words and music to bring words music and right human relations."

She was exposed to music and its creative powers early in her life by both parents. India.Arie says, "They always told me and my brother we could do anything or be anything. I realize how valuable that is. I've seen people who have more range than me, and their parents didn't say, you can be a singer if you want to. They have to get over that block to where they can express themselves freely.

"My brother was always athletics and I was always music. I had recorders and pianos and trumpet and flute. Any instrument I wanted to play, they had it there ready. I could draw and paint and go outside. I could make clothes, draw. I had to go to school. For real, I would not have went to school if it wasn't our choice. Everything else was our choice. Now it's a valuable thing that I understand," India.Arie says.

It was her discovery of the guitar at college in Savannah, Ga., that inspired her to write and perform. Now, it is one of her trademarks.

Her father is basketball star Ralph Simpson. Her mother, who is now her stylist, is a former singer who goes by the name Simpson. Asked if she pays her mom for her clothes, India. Arie says, no and notes her mom's attitude is, "I just want to make sure my child is sharp when she walks out there. I'm spoiled with the clothes I need and I want."

Motown records signed India.Arie and released her "Acoustic Soul" album in 2001. Her second album, "Voyage to India," came out in a year later, and she says it reflects her growth as both an artist and a person. In June 2002, BET named India.Arie Best R&B Female Artist, and she won the Best R&B Album award at this year's Grammys.

She won two Grammys this year after coming away empty-handed the year before, India.Arie says, "The Grammys of 2002 taught me a valuable lesson about what awards mean and what they don't mean. And awards don't really mean anything to me in my personal mission. I want to make good music and that's what I care about. I care about that there's an audience of people that really listen and care about the music. That's always a good thing. This year, it was like it's a really good thing. It's always better to have a platform to just say thank you to the people who helped you in front of the world."

For those curious about her name, India.Arie says she added the dot in the middle to make it recognizable.