Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo is one of the most sought after poetry slammers in the country. Among her lists of credits is being asked to compose and perform a poem for a dinner event hosted for Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, being commissioned by...
Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo is one of the most sought after poetry slammers in the country. Among her lists of credits is being asked to compose and perform a poem for a dinner event hosted for Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, being commissioned by Discovery Channel for their 2008 brand campaign, being commissioned by a top-twenty ad agency to write a piece for a diversity training tool, gracing the inaugural cover of the magazine Leverage, receiving a 2007 Massachusetts Industry Committee Hip-Hop Award for Spoken Word Artist of the year, and a New England Urban Music Award for the Best Female Spoken Word Poet of 2006.
A 2x National Poetry Slam Individual Finalist, Iyeoka is also the only member of the nationally competing Boston Lizard Lounge Slam team to have earned her position seven years in a row. In 2008, Iyeoka's vocal talents on a cover of U2's 1988 hit song "Desire" was showcased on a compilation of U2 covers that includes All-Star Grammy Award winning African artists with proceeds benefiting the Global Fund. Iyeoka will help you to remember that there is no such thing as "slam poetry", only three minute time slots where a poet tries to inject their heart into yours. Let her.
Cd's available online www.iyeoka.com: Black and Blues 2004 Phanai Records/ Hum the Bass Line 2007 Phanai Records/ In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 2008 Sony Records
Having her say by The Boston Globe December 17, 2007Iyeoka Okoawo (above) is having a banner year. The Nigerian-American singer/poet started it off touring in Hawaii and then broke into the local radio rotation. In August, she was...
Boston-Based Poet Brings Her Voice to the World by Gabrielle Bouliane The slim figure of a woman steps lightly onto the empty stage in front of an audience of 3500. Aside from a spotlight and a microphone, there is nothing between her and her audience. Yet when she...
Having her say by The Boston Globe December 17, 2007
Iyeoka Okoawo (above) is having a banner year. The Nigerian-American singer/poet started it off touring in Hawaii and then broke into the local radio rotation. In August, she was featured on Rounder Records' "Next on the Mic," a spoken-word collection of some of the best artists from the Lizard Lounge's Poetry Slam, and won the "2007 Spoken-Word Artist of the Year" award from the local Massachusetts Industry Committee's Hip-Hop Awards. She also just got word that her cover of "Desire" will be included on Shout! Factory's upcoming "In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2" album, which features artists from different regions of Africa paying tribute to U2. Tonight, she plays at the Savant Project with her band, blending spoken word, blues, and soul. 8 p.m.
Boston-Based Poet Brings Her Voice to the World by Gabrielle Bouliane The slim figure of a woman steps lightly onto the empty stage in front of an audience of 3500. Aside from a spotlight and a microphone, there is nothing between her and her audience. Yet when she opens her mouth, transforms her body into her instrument and the rich alto voice booms out a story of her family, her life and her cultural heritage from Nigeria, your mind is transported without the need for any further embellishments.
Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo is one of a new generation of poets and spoken word artists who have made an international career from her writing and performance. Based in Boston and a native of Mission Hill, Iyeoka has been expanding the reach of her voice for the past seven years, progressing to becoming one of the top ten slam poets in the nation, and then on to such feats as performing her original work before the President of Rwanda, gracing the cover of Leverage Magazine, becoming the voice of a new Discovery Health Channel branding campaign, and winning the New England Urban Music Award for the Best Female Spoken Word Poet of 2006.
With all these accomplishments behind her, the future is even brighter. On the map for this year alone are four new outstanding opportunities for her to use her voice to continue to make the world a better place.
First, Iyeoka recently committed to being the official Spokesperson for a non-governmental organization called the Amenawon Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to making improvements in the smaller villages in Nigeria, using the help of first-generation Africans living in the United States. As a private agency working directly with the local Nigerian community, the Amenawon Foundation is able to rapidly meet the needs of Nigerian residents in their chosen areas of infrastructure, education, and public health education. As spokesperson for the agency, Iyeoka is able to spread the word of the agency’s mission through her writing and performances.
“It has always been a dream of mine to be directly involved in efforts to improve conditions in the country where my parents were born. Spoken word allows me to pass on information and reach audiences unaware of the situation in rural Nigeria. One of the reasons why I am so enthusiastic about the mission of the Amenawon Foundation is because it focuses efforts on the smaller villages that are often neglected by the government and funding initiatives from larger organizations.
Next, Iyeoka is a part of three programs that will focus on youth in 2008. She received a 2008 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, for an artist-in-residency program that will take place in Hawaii this summer. Iyeoka is collaborating with the Ong King Arts Center on Oahu to offer her powerful performance and writing workshops to local youth. The program will center upon reflections of identity, hope and Mahatma Ghandi's conception of ‘being the change that you want to see in the world’. Iyeoka's workshops will take youth through exercises that help them access their emotions surrounding issues of culture and personal identity. The aspiring performers will then coalesce these feelings through writing, vocal training, music and song incorporation and body movement exercises into potent works that will grab an audience's attention. The workshops will culminate in a performance at the Ong King Arts Center. She is also leading a similar granted program through the Wayland High School Residency working with English Department and the Jazz Ensemble teaching spoken-word and music techniques for creative writing and music collaborations for purposes of performance.
Finally, she will be working with a partnership of two Boston-area non-profits, The Cloud Foundation and Opera Boston to create a workshop for teens this summer. A group of teen writers and poets were recruited from the Cloud's Teen Spoken Word Curatorial Program to create new dialogue based on the music from Carmen. With her aid, the teens will create approximately 20 minutes of dialogue to be interspersed between the opera's vocal works, creating a new story in this classic masterpiece.
Would you like to catch a performance and see what the excitement is about? Iyeoka will be performing at the Boston Hip Hop Festival in August at the City Hall Plaza and the Woburn World Festival this summer. For updated tour information find Iyeoka here at www.myspace.com/iyeoka. She also hosts an event along with The Press Project called the Rock by Funk Series that showcases an eclectic mix of poets and hip-hop bands and world music. Check out http://www.iyeoka.com and keep an eye on this dynamic whirlwind of an artist – there’s no telling where she’ll go from here.