IVA’s etherial vocals and heartfelt songwriting have carried her across two continents and successfully bridged musical genres — she is that rare crossover artist, a songwriter and bandleader, an artsong interpreter, and an opera singer.
Born Emily Samson Tepe, IVA trained at Princeton University, the Juilliard School, and got her masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music, before moving to Stockholm, Sweden on a Fulbright scholarship to study the music of her ancestors. She was poised for a career as a classical singer, winning rave reviews for her concerts abroad, until a chance meeting took her in a different direction: at the gym one day, she got to chatting with the casting director of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, who invited her to sing on the show. Max Weinberg took notice and IVA returned many times as a singer and actress.
Soon after, the violinist Joshua Bell introduced IVA to producer Manech Ibar, with whom she made her first album of her own material, the self-titled “IVA.” A few years later she wrote her second album, “Ivolution”, with songwriting and production team Martin and Andreas Karlegård. The album was picked up by Universal Sweden and gained the attention of Billboard magazine and national radio and TV — all while IVA while making her debut at the Royal Opera of Stockholm, creating the role of Tamar in SvenDavid Sandström’s Batseba.
After returning to the United States, IVA decided to put together her own band of Philadelphia and Delaware musicians, and released the EP “Leap” in July 2015, produced by the Grammy winning Tim Sonnefeld. In the past year, as “Leap” has been featured on NPR and tastemaker stations around the country, IVA has toured the US with her band, while also performing classical repertoire in such eclectic venues as the Barnes Foundation, World Cafe Live, Lincoln Center, the New York Public Theatre and the Aspen Music Festival. She toured Europe last summer with Julie Nishimura at the piano performing Chopin, Copeland, and Strauss, among other composers, and the two continue to present recitals together.
In July of 2015, the Vasa Order of America named IVA “Swedish American of the Year” for her contributions to cultural exchange between the two countries, an honor previously bestowed upon actress EStreet Band member Nils Lofgren, actress and singer Ann Margaret, lunar astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist. She is the youngest honoree to date.