Reverse Crossover

But if Janis and Aretha are the English-language parallels for India's music, what are the parallels in Anglo music for her career? Al Green crossing over to gospel? Woody Guthrie going back to folk? The Osmond Brothers crossing over to country? Eric Clapton unplugged? Paul McCartney's return to rockabilly?

What if there is no parallel? What if, indeed, there is something unique about India and unique about her good luck in being teamed up with producer Isidro Infante—salsa's Willie Dixon? And what if there's something unique about the Latin Music Tradition, and it's not just flowing into the Long Island Expressway of Pop Music With English Lyrics? What if there's something unique about the Spanish language sung over the clavé? Does it go all the way back to the Moors?

All I know is that the two times I've seen India in concert rank in my lifetime top 20. Both were democratic, relaxed, function-at-the-junction, proud-to-be-a-NewYorker affairs. The first was the Nuyorican Soul show three years ago at the Hammerstein Ballroom, where India was just one of many, from Jazzy Jeff to Eddie Palmieri. The second was last summer in Central Park, where the heat was the only thing that held her performance back from being the concert of the century. Neither time did I feel I had stumbled onto an interesting side road. Both times I felt as though I was on Main Street (if Manhattan can havea Main Street) and happy to be there.

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