Iyeoka Okoawo

Iyeoka (ee-yo-kah) Ivie Okoawo is a first generation Nigerian-American award-winning poet, recording artist, and TED fellow. In her native Esan language, Iyeoka means “I want to be respected.” As a poet, singer, activist, and educator, she channels her cultural and ancestral influences to access the power of the moment and deliver an authentic and inspiring message of healing.

Iyeoka is a holistic percussionist and a registered pharmacist who began her musical career when she founded the group The Rock by Funk Tribe, a collective of musicians that enabled her to interweave her poetry with jazz, blues, funk, and gospel. She released her first solo full-length album of poem-songs, Black and Blues, followed by Hum The Bass Line. In 2009, Iyeoka decided to transform her sound and songwriting approach to create more traditional song forms. She released This Time Around and Run Into the Rain, creating an “electronic soul” sound. In 2010, she released SAY YES, whose single “The Yellow Brick Road Song” is the theme song for the USA Network series Fairly Legal and featured on the HBO series How To Make It In America.

Iyeoka is currently showcasing her one woman musical show, When Women Were Drummers and editing her latest Esan language preservation project titled IYEOKAN: Esan Names, Proverbs and Poems from an Esan Woman- a sacred journey through an African dialect.