One of the composers featured this year at Juneteenth 2018 is Nigerian-American composer Nkeiru Okoye, who I first met many, many moons ago as a student at Oberlin Conservatory.  As we have since joked about on many occasions, it was our first time seeing a reflection of ourselves.  We both had a Nigerian father and a non-Nigerian mother (hers African-American, mine Jamaican), we both lived there for a while as a child, we both fell in love with classical music at an early age and had few to no peers of color.  She also studied piano while I also studied composition.  I’ll never forget sitting in the conservatory student lounge as we realized how shockingly similar our stories were.  What were the chances that we would meet each other in a conservatory in the middle of cornfields?!  So, when I found her African Sketches, I thought, this should be right up my alley, and indeed it was.  Her music reflects the varied nature of her influences and is powerfully evocative of a Nigeria that dazzled us as children, with sights and sounds and scents that we would experience in no other place in the world.

To find out more about the magnificent Dr. Okoye, click here.

To get tickets to experience her music live at Joe’s Pub, click here.