"I do this for the love of music/Not for the glitter and gold," sings India.Arie on her Grammy-winning ditty, "Little Things." The statement itself isn't exactly groundbreaking, but the emotion in Arie's voice makes her words resonate. One can't help but believe that everything the girl from Georgia sings about comes straight from the heart. Not that it's hard to do; with songs about hope, individuality, and forgiveness, Arie's music is obviously a reflection of her unbridled optimism.
Since 2001, the singer/songwriter who also plays both guitar and flute has been revitalizing neo-soul and R&B. Avoiding hyperproduced dance beats and cheesy love ballads has earned Arie an ardent legion of fans, including many fellow musicians. For her latest release, Testimony: Vol. 1, Life & Relationships, the singer turned to an unexpected source for vocal support: country singers. She duets with Gary Lenox of Rascal Flatts, along with legendary blues chanteuse Bonnie Raitt on another track. The result is a bittersweet ode to love, growth, and loss that includes an aching cover of Don Henley's "The Heart of the Matter." The disc's three Grammy nominations are, as they say, no little thing.