Iyeoka Okoawo, Recording Artist and Poet
Video: Iyeoka Okoawo, Recording Artist and Poet(MUSIC). I'm always hearing music in my head. It's how I live. (MUSIC) Music and words literally do just ride together. And I'm always looking for what song represents these words. I really never thought that it would necessarily happen to me, that I would have a song that's like a internet You Tube sensation. With the presence of the internet, with the presence of these tools of the mobile world, it's a new audience. You know, it's a new audience that are checking out the body of work that I've been producing for the past ten years.
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Technology has revolutionized the way music is made, consumed, distributed, and popularized. Now new voices can be heard the world over. Recording artist Iyeoka knows this firsthand, as she watched her single, "Simply Falling," go viral practically overnight. Watch her inspiring story unfold, as she traces her roots in Boston and her evolution from a pharmacist who dreamed of being an artist to a successful songwriter and poet. Iyeoka also shares the lessons she's learned about the role that discipline plays in creativity, and how working with collaborators in jam sessions and poetry slams shaped her own sound.
Iyeoka Okoawo, Recording Artist and Poet
(MUSIC). I'm always hearing music in my head. It's how I live. (MUSIC) Music and words literally do just ride together. And I'm always looking for what song represents these words. I really never thought that it would necessarily happen to me, that I would have a song that's like a internet You Tube sensation. With the presence of the internet, with the presence of these tools of the mobile world, it's a new audience. You know, it's a new audience that are checking out the body of work that I've been producing for the past ten years.
(MUSIC) There's so many different ways to use that technology for where we are now, to get that word out to a global audience. You know? The global audience wasn't an option for me. In terms of how I thought about where my, music was going to take me. Or where my poems would take me. I definitely used to think a bit more local. (MUSIC) I know that it, it began here. And my Dad was always playing Fela Kuti, and there was always rhythms going on. rhythms that I didn't really understand at first. My parents used to take us to concerts that would come through here, touring Nigerian musicians.
I know that, that was a seed for me. You know? To see a big band live, playing and everyone dancing. It's like, you know, my parents saying that this is where we come from, and it's, it's a powerful thing for a child to be told that, that your blood is this. Male: Would you give a warm witZend welcome to lyeoka? Lyeoka: (MUSIC) (NOISE) Well listen to this. It's just so the work out. Driving the nate, I'm on the road tonight.
Trying to get back home to you, you probably worry, the way men like you do. Thank you. (MUSIC) Boston is one of the hubs of slam poetry. When I was in college, it was the first time that I actually was involved in a slam at Northeastern University. I challenged myself to start memorizing my work, because I didn't really do that at first.
It takes me a really, really long time to memorize anything. Anything that is not like pharmaceutical terms in, in science. because I was in college then, going for my degree in pharmacy. And once that happened, I started feeling the confidence of being able to embody what I was trying to communicate to an audience, and I would find myself on stage. Male: (MUSIC) Ladies and Gentlemen, a nice round of applause.
We're glad to have her back in the house. This is her home. Welcome home, Ladies and Gentlemen. Iyeoka Okoawo. Lyeoka: I believe that we have 365 days to change. Somebody say word. All: Word. Lyeoka: To change our altitudes. To change our attitudes. I had my start at the Lizard lounge, and it was a place to grow. It was, it was a place to, to build, and it definitely allowed me to meet a lot of people.
A lot of people that came through. So in the ten years that I would go to the Lizard Lounge pretty much every Sunday night. You know community was formed of very unique voices, but people that were consistent with wanting to use the word as a ritual. You know something that you can discipline yourself enough to keep coming back, week after week. So that's what the Lizard Lounge is to a lot of people and for me, it's been a stage.
It's been a weekly opportunity to discipline myself to write a poem, or a song, or a hook every week. To present with a live Jazz Band. (MUSIC). I want to sing you a new song, a new song, I want to let go of old habits. I want to break, want to show the world how to embrace the day with. You know, going from high school to college, to you know, working as a pharmacist, in, to the real world into evolving into my musician self. It's been a process in figuring out what is the discipline in this. What is, what is the discipline that, you know, that I've been trained to understand my entire career as a person? And it's just that. It's discipline.
(MUSIC) I'm on top of technology. I like to test out a lot of different applications. With the drumming, there's the metronome that I've used to keep me on beat. There's the Evernote. You know, their motto is remember everything. And having so many ideas come forward as often as it does, allows me to categorize all the different parts of of what I want to preserve.
I'm able to record all of my rehearsals. I'm able to record all of my shows, my live shows. I'm able to send it out to my musicians, so they can hear what we're creating. You know, it really does allow me to communicate with, with others. You know, with people that I'm co-creating with. That I'm collaborating with. (MUSIC) The piano playing in the background, with a drum beat of the day saying allelujah. I want to sing you a new song, a new song.
I want to let go of old habits. I want to break, I want to break, I want to show the world how to embrace the day. Having an opportunity to spend time with other musicians, you get to learn about what other, other people do. In the consensus I've learned is, there's no way that you can get any better than where you are, unless you practice it every day, to the point where it's not practice really. But this experience of ritual, knowing that tomorrow's going to be there.
And what I want to do tomorrow is is I want to do this again. I want to present. I want to write. I want to sing. I want to talk about the things that I want to be running on repeat in my mind. I want to talk about being happy and grateful. This really is a creative process. (LAUGH) And yeah, I'm in the middle of it. (MUSIC) Love song. There goes my heart again. All of this time I thought we were pretending.
Nothing looks the same when your eyes are open. Now you playin' these games. Male and Female: (MUSIC) My heartbeat spinning, you. Male and Female: Show me love, you show me love. Show me everything my heart is capable of. You reshape me like butterfly origami, yeah. Lyeoka: You have broken into my heart, this time I feel, the blues have been brought in, nothing can keep me away from this feeling, I know I am, superly falling for you. (MUSIC)
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