India Arie: I Am Not My Hair

More than a century later, the effects of slavery still linger with us. Only recently has the world’s standard of beauty come to include the full bodies and textured hair of African Americans. So afraid of the ugliness so long associated with being black, masses of black men and women have endured the harmful side effects of cosmetic products like skin bleachers and hair relaxers in an attempt to change their natural, inherited beauty into something more European.

Without judgment against the choices other black women have made, India Arie details her feelings and her personal journey of coming to accept the natural, black hair she’d been born with. Though Arie is featured on album covers with dreadlocks, there had been a time in her life where she, like many African-American women today, relaxed her hair whether for matters of convenience or for conforming to an unnatural, European style.

Fans of Arie already know about the songstress’ soulful, rhythm and blues style. I Am Not My Hair mimics her signature approach to the music she sings. While not activist, Arie’s messages can be sometimes controversial, stirring debate over matters so important to her audience regardless of their race. For those looking for just such a familiar sound, Arie does not disappoint.

Of course, the single also shows no signs of maturity or growth for Arie since her debut album several years back. Still testing the waters of the music industry, Arie does little to push the boundaries of rhythm and blues beyond incorporating within her music subject matter that even more established artists would be afraid to tackle. I Am Not My Hair hopefully represents a prelude to an album that is more musically mature.

Arie’s new CD will be in stores June 27, 2006.

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