In the aftermarh of Jill Scort's surprising breakthrough in 2000, theee have been several remarkable female debuts in R&B. Besides the perpetually overhyped India.Arie, vocalists such as Syleena Johnson aod Sunshine Anderson have also emerged as solid singer-songwriters running the garnut of neo-soul exotic, postmodern chitlin'-circuit chanteusc, aod round-thc-way baby-girl. While I suspecr that much of India.Arie's debut project was cautiously manufactured somewhere in Kedar-world (I believc thcre's a Dionne Farris somewhere up in her spirit that needs to be loosed), all theee of these artists, wirh various degrees of difference, were allowed to be active agents in the music they produced. Such autonomy has been practically nonexistent within R&B. Even as Beyonce coyly tries ro ger us ro beüevc that she is an "independent" woman and a "survivor" who is gonna "work it out," the reality is that outside of the neo/alternarive/organic-souI universe, a great many R&B songstresses wear sequinned dresses, Iong black boots, halter tops (or too-tight Tshirts) and sing songs written and produced by men.