first met Joy Ike at a House Concert in Boston. She was open, friendly and gracious before the set as chairs were being arranged and wall fans adjusted to stave off the summer heat. As she began to play excerpts of her albums ‘Rumors’ and ‘All or Nothing’, they resonated with me in their newness and an odd sort of familiarity. The diverse crowd anticipated favorites like ‘Go’ and ‘Time’ but I was also entranced by how each song seemed to effortlessly weave in her faith and at times, uncannily echo my inner thoughts. I recently caught up with her to ask a few questions about her art and heritage. Shiyanbade: You grew up with multiple musical genres/styles over time. Who w o u l d y o u l i s t a s y o u r t o p 5 musicians/groups/songs that influenced you? Joy: This is hard to answer because so many artists played an instrumental part in who I am today. I loved and listened to artists like Fiona Apple and Sarah McLachlan, felt something very special whenever I put John Reuben’s Boy vs. The Cynic in my CD player, and always felt the most at home when listening to artists like Postal Service and Coldplay. As the years went on, I remember discovering independent artists like Brooke Waggoner, Greg Laswell, B.Reith, and Zero 7. They were all so different, but every one of them bared their soul to their listeners and I felt much attached to them. There are more…many more! Over the years, my love for music has had less to do with genre and more to do with knowing that the artists I am listening are telling me the truth. Shiyanbade: I understand you describe your music as soulfolk how would you describe it for people/cultures that aren’t as familiar with soul or folk music? Joy: I would simply reference artists like Amos Lee or Corinne Bailey Rae, and, especially for your readers, Nigerian performers like Nneka, Asa and Ayo. They all fall under the soulfolk category in my opinion. Much more than folk, but not just soul. Shiyanbade: How is your Nigerian background showcased in your music? Joy: Y’know, I think for many years I never realized how much my music was influenced by my heritage. But now I realize it is a major part. As the years have gone by, family stories have begun to work themselves into my songs and storytelling. My upbringing has also influenced my partnership with Food for the Hungry, which happens to be working in 8 African countries. But more than anything, I’ve realized that the percussive rhythms found in nearly everything I was exposed to as a child, have worked themselves in my songs. The drums often feel like the most important element on stage. In fact, as someone who is a drummer at heart, I’ve been told that I play my piano as if it were a drum 🙂 Shiyanbade: In a brief statement can you tell me, what is your art? Joy: My art is to tell the truth with music. Joy Ike has been writing, performing and touring for over 8 years and you can find out more about her music at Joyike.com (her primary home), Facebook,Twitter, Intagram, and YouTube.
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