“My Life Changed So Fast That It Wasn’t Enjoyable”: India Arie On The Downside Of Fame, Retiring From Music Twice

August 1, 2014  |  

D. Salters/WENN.com

For folks on the outside looking in, getting a taste of fame (and the money that usually comes with it) seems either really nice, or really stressful. For someone like India Arie who has lived in the spotlight since dropping the hit “Video” from her critically-acclaimed album Acoustic Soul in 2001, it has been more of the latter. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Arie was honest about the fact that being in the spotlight hasn’t necessarily always been a fun experience for her.

“My life changed so fast that it wasn’t enjoyable. I went from being a really sensitive, spiritual and emotional artist (you can tell if you listen to my music), to working 20 hour days and being on 5 airplanes a week. Being in front of crowds of people, offstage, you know, and at meet-and-greets. Then there was all the make-up. There were people making sure I didn’t wear the same thing twice. All of these things, it was just too much for a person like me. It wasn’t my nature. I always thought my nature was the music. I didn’t know how to handle it at all. I retired two times. It was like, I want to make music, but can’t do this.

It was harder on me than I ever could have imagined. I went from playing guitar under a tree in Savanna[sic], Georgia, going to my art classes, talking to people, in five years, to the Grammys. And being shut out [in 2002, India was nominated for seven Grammys, and was snubbed], and the whole politics of the thing. Clive Davis and the rest.”

She also shared some advice for those looking to break into the music industry, and kept it 100 percent real: Money might make you happy for a little bit, but that happiness won’t last.

“It’s a myth that one thing can happen and make your life better forever, or that you’ll be happy forever because of this one thing. A lot of us think it’s money, others think it’s fame, and if someone has money and fame they should be happy. People think that until they’ve been there. Every person who’s made a big chunk of money early, or got introduced to fame young, knows, it’s just one more thing to be responsible for. I’ve never heard of a person who was happy because they got rich. It takes certain worries off your plate, but it doesn’t change the fact that you have this plate you need to deal with. You don’t know who your friends are, your parents are asking for things–my mother never asked me for anything, which I’m blessed for — but I have friends who spent all their money buying their parents cars.

And your friends think you’ve changed. I could tell you a million things, but you know where I’m going with that.

The advice I’d give to a young, sensitive artist, is figure out how to define what it means to give your power away. For me, that means giving anything outside of yourself the power to define how you feel about yourself. You’re going to sit across from people who see the world differently from you, you are a product to them. That doesn’t mean you have to see yourself that way. Figure out what your spiritual practice is, and make that the center of your life.”

What do you think of what Arie had to say? Talk about it below and check out her full chat with HuffPo here.

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  • chy

    she has depth, i like her and her not being interested in everyday’s RNB diva’s drama.

  • FromUR2UB

    She confirmed exactly what I’ve imagined it to be. An artist starts out thinking it going to be all about their music, and other people come in and tell them it’s about the business, do the music this way, and while at, change this, that and those.
    I sense something slimy about Clive Davis that I can’t stand anyway. When he eulogized Whitney Houston at her funeral, he almost propositioned Bobbi Kristina right there. I thought, oh no. He’s not going to do that now, is he? He seemed to catch himself before saying that he was looking to make her into a star like her mother.

  • CK. ®

    Wise words! Gotta love this woman!

  • Ivan B. Cohen

    I remember India first playing on the grounds of what was the Saint Pius X Resource Center in Savannah. The lady has truly come a long way and her discourse was a variation on Langston Hughes line of ” life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.” If I could I would say to India , William Shakespeare said it best ” to thine own self be true.” Also India, make sure you have control over your publishing and your masters.

  • Chanda

    They wanted to water her down. Turn her into their tool and India wasn’t having it. Some artists are like that.

  • Just saying!!

    Damn. Good stuff!

  • Jerlisha Cummings

    She is so cool and down to Earth. I really respect how straight up India Arie is talking about the music industry!

  • prettyredbone

    Wow I love how honest and open she is and she gave great advice.

  • ladybug

    I love this lady. One thing for sure is I’d never wanna be famous (maybe rich) but not famous. Seems like they all lose themselves in the process.