Irka Mateo is a Dominican singer-songwriter and folk music researcher who has brought the sounds of her native country to the wider world.
She is one of the pioneers of the Dominican alternative music movement and Afro-Caribbean fusion. Her work is an essential reference and inspiration to new generations of musicians. Irka writes contemporary music mixing Dominican popular and Afro/Indigenous/ European folk, such as mangulina, carabiné, sarandunga, congos, along with others Latin American and African genres such as cumbia, compa, tango and afrobeat.
Grammy Foundation Supported Initiative
She devoted herself to research Dominican folk music for ten years (1997- 2007) in the rural areas of the Dominican Republic, documenting more than thirteen genres of folkloric musical traditions — unknown in the broader culture and beyond. The Grammy Foundation supported this initiative, which culminated in a folk music archive of the Dominican Southwest. During this time Irka, with her band, introduced the accordion into the Dominican alternative scene and brought to light the ‘Comarca’ — a genre unknown outside the field. She was also the first woman to play traditional percussion in an urban environment.
In November 2017 Irka released her new album “Vamo a Gozá” at the David Rubenstein Atrium, Lincoln Center, NYC.
This release quickly charted onto radio stations, blogs and music magazines of the Latin alternative and world music market. In early 2018 she toured the Dominican Republic, supported by the Ministry of Culture, to promote the release the album “Vamo a Gozá”. Irka Mateo has released three albums “Vamo a Gozá” 2017, “Anacaona” 2009 and “Tres Américas”, Irka and Tadeu, Silence Records, 1996) and a 33 hours Dominican folk music archive (2013). She is a guest singer on the Magín Díaz’s album “El Orisha de la Rosa,” nominated for the best folk album 2017 in the Latin Grammys.