Interview Series: Joy Ike

“You have to fight a little harder for respect and you constantly have to prove yourself.” -Joy Ike, singer/songwriter

Born to Nigerian immigrants, independent artist Joy Ike’s music, voice, and writing has drawn comparisons to female musicians such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Regina Spektor, Norah Jones, and Fiona Apple. But her percussive piano-playing and soaring vocals give homage to her African upbringing. Leaving her career as a publicist in 2008, Ike has since played hundreds of shows across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest. She has had the opportunity to share the stage and open for Jeffrey Gaines, Denison Whitmer, Deas Vail, Butterfly Boucher, Dwele, Chrisette Michele, Tyrone Wells, Najee, Allen Toussaint, and Serena Ryder to name a few. As a singer/songwriter who purposefully refuses to be pigeon-holed into any one specific genre, Ike’s path has consistently taken an “anywhere for anyone” approach playing for intimate audiences in coffeehouse, Universities, house concerts, churches, and small theater settings. A write-up on NPR's All Things Considered says "The depth of subjects she tackles in her poetic lyrics are perfectly complemented by a unique blend of neo-soul, with just the right dash of pop...a truly compelling act to watch in person, with the ability to create an intimate setting in locations big and small." A  segment on NPR's World Cafe (December 2013) featured Ike as one of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's up-and-coming artists.
Joy Ike, performing singer/songwriter

The following interview is part of a series designed to discuss issues that women face in the music industry. The goal is to empower women musicians to embrace their artistry with confidence and passion.

As a female musician, do you think you face more adversity than your male counterparts?

“I personally think it’s much harder to be a female musician than a male one – on many levels. I think the industry takes female musicians less seriously than males. Everything from biased soundmen who don’t think women know how to check their instruments, to venues that treat women like they’re just pretty voices looking for attention. You have to fight a little harder for respect and you constantly have to prove yourself.”

What is your biggest challenge as a woman in the music industry?

“I think longevity is much more difficult for the female musician. Roughly 5 years ago (2010) when Lilith Fair returned for a minute, I had the opportunity to open for an incredible lineup of women and be on a panel with Sarah MacLachlan, Jill Hennessey, Butterfly Boucher, and many others. Behind the stage, many of these women were taking care of their kids, putting them to bed in the trailers, and going out to do a show. I was so impressed and encouraged by how they were able to balance being on the road with having a family. However, I knew it was a major challenge for them. For this reason, I know that having a long lasting career for women is much harder than for men. There is a lot you have to either sacrifice or balance in order for it all to work together.”

How do you view other women musicians?

“I have a lot of respect for female musicians. There are many that I watch and hope to be like someday – Brooke Waggoner, Sara Groves, Kimbra, Vienna Teng, Priscilla Ahn, Butterfly Boucher, Norah Jones…and the list goes on and on. Being a female musician is bold!”

Have you/do you experience any pressure to sexualize your image as a performer?

“No, I think in my world of music (the folk world) that would actually work against me. You look less professional and people don’t take you as seriously when you dress like a slut. I’m not saying that everyone who sexualizes their image is a slut, but you loose a little bit (or a lot) of musical integrity and respect. But there is pressure to look good – to make more of an effort than the average male musician would make.”

What advice would you give to young women pursuing a career as a musician?

“Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. Actually that is the advice I give every musician. Pursing a career as an artist is no joke. You grow a pretty thick skin pretty fast because you don’t have a choice. You have to hope for good outcomes but brace yourself for really bad experiences and really bad days. Be ready to get sized up, compared, measured, and tested. And good luck! Oh…also, read my blog for working artists – Grassrootsy!”

About Joy:

Born to Nigerian immigrants, independent artist Joy Ike’s music, voice, and writing has drawn comparisons to female musicians such as Corinne Bailey Rae, Regina Spektor, Norah Jones, and Fiona Apple. But her percussive piano-playing and soaring vocals give homage to her African upbringing. Leaving her career as a publicist in 2008, Ike has since played hundreds of shows across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest. She has had the opportunity to share the stage and open for Jeffrey Gaines, Denison Whitmer, Deas Vail, Butterfly Boucher, Dwele, Chrisette Michele, Tyrone Wells, Najee, Allen Toussaint, and Serena Ryder to name a few. As a singer/songwriter who purposefully refuses to be pigeon-holed into any one specific genre, Ike’s path has consistently taken an “anywhere for anyone” approach playing for intimate audiences in coffeehouse, Universities, house concerts, churches, and small theater settings. A write-up on NPR’s All Things Considered says “The depth of subjects she tackles in her poetic lyrics are perfectly complemented by a unique blend of neo-soul, with just the right dash of pop…a truly compelling act to watch in person, with the ability to create an intimate setting in locations big and small.” A segment on NPR’s World Cafe (December 2013) featured Ike as one of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s up-and-coming artists.

Listen and see what Joy is up to at:

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