Irka Mateo is a Dominican singer songwriter and world music artist. Her artistic career has been one of breaking boundaries and embracing people's deepest humanity especially through their music.
Her artistic sensibility incubated in Spain, France, Brazil, Canada, the United States and her native Dominican Republic. In the late 1970s and early 1980s she lived in Europe (Spain and France) where she immersed herself in the emerging world music scene. In the late 1980s she moved to Canada, where she worked with the best artists in that country performing to enthusiastic audiences regularly at the Montreal Jazz Festival and numerous other events and venues. It was also in Montreal that she recorded the Spanish-language version of Sucre Amer, a song in defense of Haitian sugar cane workers - the recording that led to her opening for the Fugees when they played in Haiti in 1996.
In 1998 she returned to Quisqueya (Hispaniola). Along with performing in the country and the wider Caribbean she spent the next 10 years immersing herself in the islands its folk music; founded on popular religious celebrations and Taino culture. The result is music much more infused with Afro and Taíno traditions. This work also lead Mateo to co-founding Guabancex, Wind and Water Society dedicated to the popularization and preservation of native culture. A key moment in any Irka Mateo performance is when she dons a native headdress during the singing of Anacaona--a song that is essentially a passion play of the Taino queen hanged by the Spanish Conquistadors.
It was during this period she also collaborated with Luis Días (composer) on his recording EL TERROR EN VIVO (with Transporte Urbano)
Along with this field work in the DR, Mateo has toured widely performing in concerts and festivals in the Caribbean and Latin America; including a performance in front of 100,000 people in Mexico City.
In 2008, Grammy Award winning producer, Daniel Blumenfield, of GoodandEvil, Inc. (Sex Mob's Sexotica; The Klezmatics' Wonder Wheel) discovered Mateo music and brought her to New York. She has since released the album Anacaona (in 2009).