Joy Ike May 18th at One World Coffeehouse
Polished and precise, yet buoyed with an airy grace, on Bigger Than Your Box Joy Ike paints with a broad palette that defies easy categorization. The Nigerian-American, Philadelphia, PA-based artist crafts music at turns soaring and plaintive, draped around a voice all dusky suede. Fiery, free, and immediately arresting, Ike possesses a powerful instrument which she wields with humble virtuosity. As warm and beautiful as the lovely tape hiss on an old jazz record, Bigger Than Your Box leaves the listener uplifted, perhaps a little teary-eyed, and very much satisfied.
Ike began playing music in earnest while in college, gravitating to piano as a tool to aid her greatest passion – songwriting. “I believe good music is simply poetry with a soundtrack” she says. Out of college she worked her hometown scene in Pittsburgh, PA at night while working for a book publish firm during the day. The untimely 2008 passing of her brother caused a sudden shift in perspective. “For the first time, I truly felt the brevity and uncertainty of life” tells Ike. “I left my job one week after he died.” Rushing headfirst into uncertainty shaped her 2008 debut LP Good Morning, which explored themes of starting fresh and beginning again. Five years of striving towards her dream of making it as an artist lead to 2013’s All or Nothing. Through those years Ike garnered praise from the likes of NPR’s All Things Considered, who called her “…a voice and talent beyond her years,” and SoulBounce which described her music as “…a sensational slice of urgent piano-soul.”
Live, she has shared the stage with Cody Chestnut, Allen Toussaint, Butterfly Boucher, and more. Drawn to both down-tempo folk and indie rock as well as mainstream pop, Ike writes from a place of purity, following her muse to create art that speaks from the soul. “I always knew I had to create something that felt real,” says Ike, “not conjured to cater to one specific audience. If I could count the number of times people have asked me if I’m a jazz, gospel, or R&B singer…I’ve spent most of the last 12 years being told to ‘sound more black’. What does that even mean?” While her music might be incredibly soulful and rhythmic, it has always resonated more within the folk world, and for that she makes no apologies.