Iyeoka Ivie 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.

Okoawo 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, Okoawo 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 featured on the HBO series How To Make It In America.

As a poet, Okoawo has performed at the Trumpet Awards and Def Poetry Jam and has shared the stage with poets Gil Scot Heron, Sonia Sanchez, and Amiri Baraka.

Recipient of a 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, she is also the 2nd place 2009 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion.