Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo is the founder and lead singer of the music group The Rock by Funk Tribe. Iyeoka is at the forefront of creating a new artistic genre that gracefully interweaves spoken word poetry with jazz, blues, gospel and electronic soul. As a dynamic sensation in the Boston music scene, Iyeoka and the Rock by Funk Tribe have been invited to locally support touring artists including FEMI KUTI, ZAP MAMA and Slick Rick. In April 2010, Iyeoka performed at Jazzmouth, The Seacoast Poetry & Jazz festival in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, alongside former US poet laureate Robert Pinsky, Ray Manzarek of the Doors, and original beat poet Michael McClure.
Iyeoka’s latest hit single, “the Yellow Brick Road song” received national placement in an episode of the new hit HBO series “How To Make It In America”, gaining many positive reviews for both lyrical content and musical composition.
Embracing the power of words from writers such as Sonia Sanchez, Patricia Smith and Alice Walker, Iyeoka is a powerful songstress whose lyrical prowess invokes the spirit of the renowned soul-shaker Nina Simone. A story teller to the core, Iyeoka’s hope-filled poems come from within and build momentum with truth transformed into songs that reemerge as unique, emotionally complex gifts to her audience, touching on a wide range of issues-love, women, culture, struggle, relationships, among many others. In 2008, Iyeoka’s vocal talents on a cover of U2′s 1988 hit song “Desire” was showcased on a compilation of U2 covers Produced by Shawn Amos and Paul Heck, In The Name Of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 features Grammy Award-winning/nominated African artists including Angelique Kidjo, Les Nubians, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, Vieux Farka Tour, Vusi Mahlasela and the Soweto Gospel Choir where proceeds benefited the Global Fund.
The buzz surrounding her poem-songs has garnered her national attention through performances at the TBS Trumpet Awards, the Sullivan Honors Awards at the Kennedy Center, the CBS hip hop show The Source All Access and Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam airing on HBO. Iyeoka also has opened for the Tony Award winning Def Poetry Jam on Broadway tour at the Colonial Theater in Boston. Sharing the stage with recording artists Chuck D of Public Enemy, Musiq Soul Child and Vivian Greene to poets Gil Scot Heron, Sonia Sanchez, and Amiri Baraka. Iyeoka’s warm spirit, stirring lyrics and passionate performances leave audiences not only entertained but also transformed with empowerment.
Iyeoka lended her coaching abilities as a spoken word expert on the syndicated PBS KIDS GO! TV series FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman. For her most recent project involving the youth, Iyeoka was invited to develop a workshop for Brave New Voices, Russell Simmons’ HBO docu-series about teenage slam poets.