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June 28: Black Music Month artist India Arie

President George W. Bush had a lot of screw-ups during his eight-year term, but he did do a couple things right. One of them was proclaiming June as Black Music Month on May 31, 2002. June is here,* and to celebrate Black Music Month, I'll be featuring one of my favorite artists each day, sharing my first or most personal memory of them, and explain what their accomplishments are and why I felt they should make the Black Music Month Top 30 list. There will be some oldies, some newbies and some artists you may not know of yet.

Singer India Arie poses in the Backstage Winner's Room at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on June 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for BET

Black Music Month Heat Factor "Why's this artist hot?": India Arie is neo-soul at its best, but she's also a mix of that '70s Black and Proud era saluting those with natural hair, brown skin and casual wear. When we got small glimpses of India Arie in fitted gear, she could've pulled off the model look. But she didn't. And for that, her audience respected her self-love that many of us don't have without a bucket of makeup, fake hair and booty shorts. Throughout her career, she's held on to that and stayed consistent, making great music without sacrificing her own swagger. She not only celebrated brown women and natural attributes of black women, but she made a song about her love for our different shades, "Brown Skin" and a collabo song with Musiq Soulchild “Chocolate High." While there were male artists big-upping sistas who didn't fit the stereotypical idea of beauty, such as Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Eric Benet, Chris Brown, etc., it was a breath of fresh air to see a woman do it. too.

First Memory, Most Personal Memory of the Artist: I've always loved India Arie's voice, songs and style, but she blew me a little at the Source Awards when she said this was the first award she thought she wouldn't win. I thought it was kind of vain, and when I saw her repeatedly bragging and reminding the Taste of Chicago crowd that she was number one on the Billboard charts, she made me sigh again. As arrogant as I thought the comments were, the fact is she really should‘ve been loading up on awards and skyrocketing up the Billboard charts with more songs. So I started thinking the person who'll always love you best is you, so why not celebrate yourself? India Arie has always gone against the norm and celebrated her individuality so I went from being put off by her to loving her music more. And I couldn't deny her talent anymore than I could deny other artists in the industry who brag about their success. I know she probably fought tooth and nail against conforming to what society felt was beautiful before joining Motown with full artistic control. I would've never guessed she was from Denver before moving to Atlanta, but that goes to show you that soul music can come from anywhere.

Accomplishments from the Artist: In the state of looking like Barbie Dolls, weave, silicone and stilettos, India Arie came out and defied it all with her first single "Video," which stayed on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Billboard charts for 52 weeks and 31 weeks on the main Billboard charts. Although "I Am Not My Hair" stayed on the mainstream charts for only one week. the single peaked at number 10 and was on the Dance/club Play Billboard Songs for four weeks. "Little Things" stayed on the Billboard charts for 13 weeks. She won a 2010 Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance with "Pearls" and is one of the 10 inductees in the Georgia Music Hall of Fame coming this September 11.

* This entry was originally published on Associated Content in June of 2010. It has been republished with permission from Shamontiel. To find out who the other 29 artists were who were selected in 2010, visit this Pinterest board.

Shamontiel is also The Wire Examiner, and for the gladiators, she's the Scandal Examiner, too.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest TV, book, music and movie reviews; photo galleries; entertainment saving tips and other entries, or subscribe to her National African American Entertainment channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews, and follow this Pinterest board to read her celebrity interviews.

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