Twenty years ago, singer-songwriter India.Arie Simpson dropped the melodic tune ‘Brown Skin’ for her debut album Acoustic Soul. Known simply as India.Arie, her song topped Billboard charts and ignited an era of music that felt like a love song for Black women and Black people in the name of self care and self love. 

Back then, we slid our coveted CD into the mouths of our desktop computers or boomboxes. Where we leaned on India.Arie for inspiration, we’ll now follow her lead into the intersecting world of tech and wellness. 

The singer, songwriter, and long-time meditator recently announced her latest endeavor as an equity partner in venture-backed meditation device company Core Wellness

A purposefully designed meditation ball, powered by the Core app, Core Wellness uses biometrics to encourage breath control and focus for those navigating meditation techniques. Users enhance their meditation practice from home or the office and track progress within the app. 

“The weight of it, the tactile sense, once you learn how to meditate, you can learn what it means to tap into your physical body. It’s really effective and very smart,” India.Arie told The Plug. 

While CD collections are now relics of the technological evolution of the last two decades, replaced by the ever-changing technology of how we listen and now stream music, music is now spearheading the movement of hardware-centered apps that are powering our self care. 

India.Arie became acquainted with the company back in 2019 when Core co-founder Sarah McDevitt visited her backstage after a performance. India.Arie instantly took a liking to the concept of a device that could fit in the palm of your hands and help you focus on getting centered. 

Core follows the pattern of wellness apps and smart devices that are shaping our world through technology. Products from Peloton to Mirror are tapping into a heightened consumer focus on self care practices and are training their users to take time for themselves. 

Founded in 2016 and backed by $7 million in venture capital from investors like Bose, Alpaca VC, Bose Ventures, and others, Core joins the competitive mental health landscape of services like Calm, Ten Percent Happier, and Headspace. It differentiates itself in the meditation market, slated at $1 billion alone in the U.S., through a physical product, crossing the hardware-powered-by-software divide and making accessibility easy even on the go.

“India.Arie has been representing wisdom and the interconnectedness of mind, body, soul health for so long, she’s really an original on those topics especially in her industry. Her music certainly represents it, as well as the way she shares her personal journey with her audience so genuinely,” McDevitt told The Plug. 

McDevitt, a former engineering product manager at Microsoft, studied computer science and mathematics at New York University and studied stress and meditation at Stanford in her education master’s program. 

“At Core, we view vulnerability as strength, and so that willingness to open up her own evolution and practices is inspirational, and so aligned with how we want to show up for mental health in all of our communities.”

Core starts off at $149, which includes a Core Trainer with guided content in the Core meditation App. The premium version provides unlimited access to new daily meditations and premium meditations for $69.99 per year.

While the company didn’t disclose its user numbers, it did share that Core subscribers are mostly complete beginners at meditation and breath training and, after joining Core, they typically meditate around 3 to 4 days per week.

India.Arie believes in the training aspect that physical products can have in helping beginners utilize the technology for meditation. 

“I think if someone is having a hard time meditating or a hard time with anxiety or any mental health issue, telling them to control themselves or do It alone, runs the risk of making the person feel discouraged or that they need more help. Anytime you are starting something, you need a trainer,” said India.Arie, whose music will soon be coming to the platform.

As an equity partner, India.Arie is tasked with amplifying the work and message of Core and building awareness around the product as well as its benefits. 

The music and meditation alignment follows the confluence of wellness and fitness trainers becoming the new music influencers and defining popular brands like Peloton who have successfully created major partnerships and accompanying instructor schedules with music from Beyonce, Usher, Justin Beiber, Broadway’s Hamilton, and others. 

“What we lose in this tech age, is remembering the fundamental truth that the body is an interconnected ecosystem. Just turning on an app we’ll just walk around the house, but having something to hold…it’s grounding,” India.Arie said.