Biography & Performances

United Palace





Irka Mateo is a singer songwriter and performer form the Dominican Republic. She writes “Mestizo Music,” accordion and guitar-lead songs inspired by the indigenous/ Afro/ European folk traditions of her native country, as well as the wider Caribbean and Latin America. 

Irka travelled for ten years in the rural areas of the Dominican Republic documenting more than thirteen genres of folk musical traditions--unknown to the wider Dominican culture and beyond. As a result, her extensive field research was recognized by the Grammy Foundation which awarded a “Preservation Implementation” grant, allowing her research to be donated to the Dominican National Archives as well as to the Ethnomusicology Archives at Wesleyan University in the United States.

  Irka introduced the Dominican accordion into the Dominican/Latin alternative scene. She has brought to light the ‘Comarca,’ a wholly unknown genre outside of the countryside and was the first woman to play traditional percussion in urban settings. 

She recently launched “Palenquera” a champeta to honor the Afro-descendent woman of San Basilio de Palenque. The song was produced in Colombia by Grammy winner Christian Castagno and features Andres Gutierrez (Systema Solar) on drums and percussion. Irka is currently recording the album “Vamo a Gozá” with Grammy winner Danny Blume. The album will be released later this year.


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2013-Present —Irka began producing and recording her next album of accordion music, with a more global concept, in collaboration with Danny Blume and Yasser Tejeda. On August 8 2015 Irka Mateo launched the single Vamo a Goza, from her new album set for release in 2016. 

2012— Irka won a grant from the Grammy Foundation to digitize her archive of Dominican folkmusic. On completion she donated it to her country where it is now located in the General Archive of the Dominican Republic and another copy was donated to the Ethnomusicology Archive at Wesleyan University, Connecticut, USA.

2009— She launched her solo album Anacaona a tribute to her country’s indigenous and Africanroots and to the Brazilian music where she began. Anacaona included the song "Man of Earth,” showcasing for the first time her new musical stage of invoking accordion music. performingwidely in NY , including at the United Nations, the Smithsonian Institution National Museumof the American Indian, the Louis Armstrong Museum, Joe's Pub, and other venues. 

2007—Danny Blume, the Grammy-winning American producer, discovered Irka and broughther to New York. 

1997-2007— Irka dedicated herself to touring the Dominican countryside, documenting andlearning different genres of Dominican folk music. In the course of this she formed the group“Irka con Bohuti,” which interpreted Dominican folklore and found expression in her own musical compositions. The group was well received and it was through this that Irka first introduced the accordion into Dominican alternative music. “Irka con Bohuti” participated in international music festivals such as The Festival of Fire in Santiago de Cuba, The Spring Festival in Mexico City, Mexico, the Caribbean Festival in St. Kitts, and others. 

1985-1996— Irka Mateo was lyricist and singer in the group Irka & Tadeu Band with Brazilian guitarist, composer and arranger Tadeu Demarco. Together they created an innovative repertoire of Jazz /Caribbean / Brazilian music and were key in the alternative music of the Dominican Republic, influencing an entire generation of musicians. During their residence in Montreal, Canada they recorded the CD, Three Americas, under the Silence Records label. The Irka & Tadeu Band participated three times in the Montreal International Jazz Festival, as well as the Ottawa International Jazz Festival in Baie Comeau, International Jazz, the Blues Festival in Hull, Canada, the Heineken Jazz Festival in the Dominican Republic, among others.


Performances:

Club Bonafide, NYC
Ford Theater  LA
United Palace, NYC
Joe's Pub, NYC 
United Nations Headquarters, NYC
Subrosa, NYC
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian, NYC
Louis Armstrong Museum, NYC

Mercado Cultural del Caribe, Cartagena, Colombia
Festival de la Primavera, Mexico City
Teatro Benito Juárez, Mexico City
Festival del Caribe, Veracruz
Festival of Fire, Santiago de Cuba
Carifesta VII, St Kitts
Montreal Jazz Festival ( 3 Editions)
Ottawa International Jazz FestivalFestival Cultures Canada
FestivalL'air Du TempsClub BalatouTour Montreal Maisons de Culture
Opened for The Fugees, Port-au-Prince, HaitiCafe Des Arts
Day of Europe Celebration , European Union Casa de Bastidas 1995Opening Bienal de Artes Visuales. Museo de Arte Moderno.1992Opening for Sergio Mendes & Brazil 88
Teatro San PedrCentro das Artes Mario de Andrade
Teatro 7 de April, Brazil-