A few years back when it was announced that a biopic about activist and soul singer Nina Simone was being produced, people just assumed the star behind Simone’s image would be Atlanta songstress India Arie. Strikingly similar beautiful brown countenances aside, fans of Simone and Arie felt the strongest connection between the two artists is the ethos behind their work. Like Simone, who once stated that the goal of her work was to go into White venues and shake things up, really make people see the impact of mental and physical enslavement on Black people, Arie’s music is filled with a justice driven lilt that consistently sheds light on issues impacting the disenfranchised. While the role in the biopic eventually went to Afro Latina actress Zoe Saldana, causing much controversy, Arie’s unmistakable emulation of Simone’s outspoken style remains.
In line with this claim is Arie’s latest release “Breathe,” a song set to speak to mounting violence against Black people at the hands of police. In the emotional recording, Arie echoes the ominous words of Eric Garner, whose last words while being choked by NYPD officers in July of 2014 were, “I can’t breathe.”
Arie sings, “Sometimes you just can’t believe the things your eyes see, so much injustice in this life and it’s happening right on your TV screen … So you drop to your knees and you’re praying ‘cause you can hear him saying he can’t breathe, and it’s all so overwhelming, because you know there’s nothing you can do to help him.”
Arie is well aware of the powerful message behind “Breathe.”
“My mission all of these years has been to spread love Healing Peace and Joy through the power of words and music,” she said in an exclusive with Essence. “I am working on a new album called WORTHY – but with the climate of our country, I couldn’t wait for an album release to share this song called ‘BREATHE.’ Just like the rest of the country, I am hurting and wondering how we can heal – and so I’m offering what I have. May this song ‘BREATHE’ remind the black community that I love so dearly – that we are WORTHY, Our healing is in our hands, and never ever forget about your HEART. Love is the most powerful energy in the universe and all we have to do it use it. and In honor of our brothers, lets continue to BREATHE.”
Check out the “Breathe” video India Arie posted to her Youtube channel here.
What are your thoughts about the song?