India.Arie headlines I Am Music Fest tonight (8/10/2012)
INDIA.ARIE — She not only possesses the most beautiful “Brown Skin” on Mama Nature’s blue planet, but this queen of early-’00s acoustic neo-soul — the sound that continues to spawn earthy R&B singer/songwriters, from Corinne Bailey Rae to Nneka to Michael Kiwanuka — is a live presence to behold. India.Arie’s 2001 debut, Acoustic Soul, and follow-up, Voyage To India, are modern Motown classics that seamlessly blend her folk-based acoustic fare with smooth and polished contemporary soul and R&B, much like prime early-’70s Stevie Wonder, and well in keeping with her label’s rich legacy. Her Testimony albums of 2006 and 2008 — Vol. 1, Life & Relationship and the collaboration-heavy Vol. 2, Love & Politics — found her stretching in some new directions. On the former, she mixes her crisp but warm strumming with lush strings and whimsical electronic dabblings in songs like “These Eyes” and the heavenly “Heart of the Matter”; on the latter, she adds a gritty funk’n’blues stomp to “Better Way,” a collab with contempo bluesman Keb’ Mo’. India.Arie’s local date is part of Sol Kitchen’s “I Am Music Fest 2012” at Belk Theater, which also includes performances from Mint Condition and Laura Reed. $39.50-$79.50. Aug. 10, 7:30 p.m. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St. 704-372-1000.