Musical duo seeks cultural harmony


In a multi-cultural music experience, India.Arie and Idan Raichel presented their highly anticipated collaboration, “Open Door” on Oct. 20 at the Flynn.

Moving from English to Hebrew and several cultures in between, the songs of “Open Door” yearned for global harmony.  

Influenced by Arie’s strong American soul and Raichel’s contemporary world music, a simple arrangement of winds, strings, piano and percussion garnered attention for the young duo’s cause — to inspire the interconnectedness through music

The harmonious arrangement was a model for world peace. A diverse array of musicians proved that different people with a common goal in mind can have a profound impact.

Bloom Miller — Arie’s guitarist from Nashville — melded twangy, metal-tasting blues with Idan’s Israeli sitar player. Two backup vocalists from Arie’s hometown of Atlanta performed the Hebrew lyrics soulfully.

Soft, brush-stroked percussion enlivened the music, subtly forming, a combination of Middle Eastern roots and jazz.

Arie exuded an air of elegance in a white linen dress, her hair spun up in matching fabric.  Bright in the spotlight, she bowed down in yoga-inspired stretches before embracing the microphone.

Raichel was handsomely reserved by the piano, dressed in billowy clothes, with long dreads tied back.

When he did talk, Raichel’s hands were unable to leave the keys, describing the formation of “Open Door” whilst playing small scales.

“The One” — the first song performed — captivated the audience.  The chorus of  “I am the air, I am the light … I am at one” led Arie to dance throughout.

As only one track titled “Gift of Acceptance,” has been released publicly from “Open Door,” the direction of the performance had an air of mystique.  

From sitar melodies reminiscent of India to soft jazz percussion techniques by Israeli musician Gilad Shmueli, everything except a few “oldies” was new.

“Mi’ma’makim,” from the separate Idan Raichel Project, displayed Raichel’s voice in his native Hebrew. The lyrics embodied the melodic trance of Eastern music’s allure.  

Arie performed “Video” and “Brown Skin” from her 2001 debut album, “Acoustic Soul.”

Unlike many artists, both musicians engaged the audience in conversation.  

They explained the lyrics and inspiration behind each song, especially those in Hebrew like “Manayhar,” or “River Waters” in English.

On behalf of the band, Arie requested the audience to listen in three ways — with eyes, ears and an open heart.  

However, tunes like “Prayer for Humanity” and “Brother-Sister” were so vibrant with Eastern-soul a few in the crowd moved to the front to dance.  Flynn staff quickly ordered them to their seats, reflective of the more conservative, older crowd attending with an obligation to season tickets.

The aesthetics of the ornately adorned theatre with walls of gold was ideal for such a rich performance.  

As the stage lights transitioned to a sunrise of savannah oranges and yellows, a feeling of rebirth settled with the song “Get Up” and “Just Keep Singing.” But again, due to rigid seating and no-dancing policies, audience members could not do so.

Exiting from a standing ovation, the band returned for an encore.

Lyrically, Raichel and Arie drew listeners in through the songs’ individual meanings and inspirations. A colorful ensemble of musicians from around the world, full of spirited movement, made the performance exciting to watch. 

Through an open heart, “Open Door” satisfied the soul.