American-Nigerian Iyeoka Okoawo released her first album Black & Blues in the mid 2000’s, proclaiming dark, intense poetry accompanied by her band The Rock by Funk Tribe’s sparse jazz arrangements.
Since this, her musical landscape has expanded beyond just the black and blue. On her latest record Say Yes, Iyeoka touches on both jazz, soul, R&B and hip hop. Not to mention the fact that she sings quite a bit more than on her previous release. These few changes alone could easily have explained the success she has had with her new album, but maybe it’s also worth mentioning her amazing Sade-ish single “Simply Falling” which has reached an impressive ten million hits on YouTube. Talk all you want about a certain smiling Korean guy and his 1,5 billion hits – ten million is no joke.
Chances still are that the majority of fans of her socially conscious soul music reside on the continent of North America. Yet, after playing at big American festivals like Bonnaroo, winning several poetry prizes and doing support gigs for both Femi Kuti and Zap Mama one could argue that it’s about time her name became known to Europe? Luckily, Iyeoka and The Rock by Funk Tribe have planned a massive European tour this year, and of course she’ll be stopping by Oslo World Music Festival.
Text: Kim von Klev / Translation: Thea Glenton Raknes