Irka Mateo is an award winning singer, songwriter, and folklorist. As an artist she has had a long and successful international career participating in renowned world music festivals and venues such as; UN Headquarters, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Pacific Festival in the Dominican Republic, the Veracruz Caribbean Festival in Mexico, the Festival Del Fuego in Santiago, Cuba to name a few. The World Music Chart - Europe listed her CD Anacaona as one of the best World Music albums of 2010.
In 2005 Kalalu Dance awarded her recognition for the “Diffusion of the AfroDominican Music”. In 2012 The Dominican Commissioner of Culture and the “Centro de Desarrollo de la Mujer Dominicana” both in New York City, awarded her with recognition for “Life Achievement” in her career as a singer and folklorist.
Currently Irka is lecturing on AfroDominican folk music along with playing in festivals, venues, and educational and cultural institutions with her AfroDominican Folk Percussion Quintet, "Irka Mateo & The Women of Fire", the Accordion Folk Ensemble "Partido Liborista”, and the Irka Mateo Band, playing original Compositions.
Before coming to NY in 2007 she was performing with her folk and original compositions groups and producing and conducting the television program “Musica de Kiskeya” which presented folkloric groups from the different regions of the island as well as urban bands whose music fuses with Dominican Folklore. 2005-2007
From 1997 to 2007 she carried out folk music audio recordings in rural areas of the Dominican Republic preserving some 20 genres. In 2012 she was awarded a Grant from the GRAMMY Foundation® on the category "Preservation and Archive” for creating an Audio Archive on “Sacred and Festive Music at the Liborio Mateo Calvary” from these field recordings. This archive will be available to the general audience in the United States and the Dominican Republic. She was also awarded a Brooklyn Arts Council Grant 2012 for presenting a concert featuring the Liborista Music of the archive. In the spring of 2013 the GRAMMY award winner producer Danny Blume (The Klezmatics) will be recording Irka and the folk music based on this archive.
She is a collaborator of the Smithsonian Institution at the National Museum of the American Indian in NYC since 2008.At he Museum Irka has presented concerts and workshops on Taino Instruments, Music and Dances and Exhibit Programs on “Mythology behind the Archeological objects”. She conducts workshops on “Taino Mythology through Music” in Cultural Institutions both in the Dominican Republic and EUA. She is engaged in bringing the Taino culture to the elementary schools in NYC through her performing arts program featuring Taino creation stories by the means of Storytelling, music, dances and games.
She is co-founder and member of Foundation Guabancex in the Dominican Republic, dedicated to the research and dissemination of The Taino Culture. The Annual Taino Awards, Ku Karey Circle, Inc and Yamocuno Tanama Yucayeke Taino awarded Irka the 2009 “Kiskeya Taino Music Award.