India.Arie (pictured), a musician and singer whose style combines classic R&B, jazz, soul and folk, was born into a family of performers. Her mother was a professional singer, her father is retired basketball star Ralph Simpson. Arie’s early exposure to a wide range of music inspired her intimate and personal style of writing. Her first album, Acoustic Soul made her a critical success, earning seven Grammy nominations. This early success led to an extended tour with jazz singer Sade.
India’s studio, in the basement of her Atlanta home, is based around a small Pro Tools setup, with a Mackie 32.8 recording console and a pair of Mackie HR824 monitors. India has developed an appreciation for the advantages of working at home: “I like both scenarios for different reasons, but I love the intimacy of working here. I’ve got all my instruments around me, and it’s so inspiring to be able to grab hold of an idea as it’s happening. I like to record my own vocals, usually with nobody around.”
The musical ideas and developed while on the road became the basis for her second album, Voyage to India. “My favorite songs on the album were started at 6 AM, after working all night in the studio,” she recalls. “I just stayed up writing, and the songs just flowed out. Looking back, that was really my favorite time, just recording demos on my 8-track at home, then going into the studio the next day and laying it down while it was still fresh and raw.”
Typically, her songs begin with a guitar/vocal demo, with her Godan or Takamine guitar miked direct into the Mackie mixer, and vocals captured by a vintage Neumann via a Neve preamp. “I usually record my vocals right up front, really close to the mic. I just set up with my guitar, right here in front of the mixer, and that’s how I work. The Mackie is really easy to work with.”