Singer, Lyricist, Composer, Dominican folk music researcher, Taíno culture researcher and traveler. Irka Mateo was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from a family of mixed race descendants of Tainos, Africans and Europeans. She chose the Taino as her personal identity. From an early age she was devoted to singing, playing guitar, writing poetry. At 17 she began her world travels. She has lived in United States, Spain, France, England, Brazil and Canada, as well as traveling extensively throughout Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. During these years, she participated as a singer in various musical projects with Latin Americans, Greeks, Africans and French and was a witness to the emergence of world music in Paris and Madrid. She studied psychology and foreign languages (English, French, Portuguese) in Amherst College, Connecticut, USA, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain and at l'Université d 'Strassburg, France. In Madrid she met Tadeu De Marco, a Brazilian musician, composer and arranger. Together they created a fusion of music from the Caribbean and Brazil, (cha-cha, reggae, gaga, sarandunga, samba, party high afoxe, Baia, maracatu). They also participated in many international jazz festivals an recorded "Tres Americas" for Silence Records, Canada. After traveling around the world Irka felt the need to know her own culture and return to her native country where she spent 10 years immersing her with it's folk music, popular religion and Taino culture. There she learned of different folk rhythms and of the messianic movement of Liborio Mateo and his music for healing, as well as the aboriginal way of life in rural communities. These trips led to an audio file of the folk music of these musical expressions: Palos, Palos de San Juan, Mangulina, Carabine, Salve de Villa Mella, Salve de Bani, Salve a la Virgen, Cantos de Toros, Congos, Sarandunga: Morano, Bomba and Jacana, Gaga and Guloya. Irka produced and hosted the TV program 'Music from Kiskeya' where folk musicians are invited to play and talk about their traditions. She founded "Guabancex Wind and Water Society,' with Fatima Portorreal, Tony de Moya, Jorge Estevez and Lynne Guitar; dedicated to spreading Taino culture throughout the arts and social sciences. During this time she began to compose songs based on these experiences; writing lyrics that speak of love, folklore, traditions and Taino culture. She performed with her band Irka con Bohuti: Esar Simó, double bass, Giovanni Guzmán and Raúl Sánchez, Kuki, el abuelo and Juami in percussion, Jenny and Chichita Núñez Núñez, vocals, Alexis Peña on guitar, and Kiko on the accordion. Irka with Bohuti had a great impact on the Dominican music scene, generating much public attention in the cities of the D.R., with great emphasis on youth in search of identity, artists and scholars of social sciences. She played at festivals, nightclubs, seminars, as well as a performance for the current president of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández. She has also participated in World Music Festivals in Mexico and the Caribbean. Since 2007 Irka has established her residence in New York City where she is preparing to spread her music and culture with her new group. Her CD Anacaona sees the light in May this year.
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