Sweden is a place of enormous beauty and a deeply stirring culture. It is no random chance then, that persons of great artistic strength and beauty hail from this European nation to carry their talent across the globe. One such Swedish-American, descendant of a Swede immigrant to the early shores of America, IVA, has done just that and her brand of musical artistry is already entertaining the international masses. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, IVA’s love for singing began almost from the start, with her appearances with the Opera Delaware at age 9. Eventually, her talent and drive took her to New York, where she attended The Juilliard School and The Manhattan School of Music. Later, after graduating from Princeton, IVA began to play the New York clubs and Off-Broadway venues. Thanks to her own hard work and a Fulbright Scholarship for Performing Artists, IVA moved to Sweden in her operatic pursuit of music. It was in Sweden where IVA embraced her opera side and quickly found herself singing with the Royal Opera of Stockholm.
Being a relative stranger in a “familiar” country gave IVA the opportunity to explore who she was with a freedom she didn’t know was possible. This time abroad, albeit lonely at first, led to an explosion of creativity and changed the direction of her career, and her life, forever. IVA was inspired to shift from opera to pop, releasing two pop records in Sweden, the second with Universal. Her voice has an etherial quality to it as does her overall sound. Billboard Magazine remarked on IVA’s versatility, touting her as an artist to watch who was “doubl[ing] up in Sweden” between opera and pop. The Tri-State Indie proclaimed “Keep your eyes open for this remarkable crossover talent . . . she’s the real thing.”
During her several years abroad studying, writing and performing music, IVA returned to the States where, thanks to an appearance on NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien, she caught the ear of Band Leader Max Weinberg. Weinberg liked her voice and she was invited to return to the show multiple times as a singer and actress.
Now, an international recording artist, vocalist and songwriter, IVA, releases her new EP – LEAP, due on July 10, 2015, making her one of the first to utilize the new “Friday, Global Release Day” for music. Produced by Tim Sonnefeld, whose collaborations include Grammy winning albums with Usher, as well as on albums with Philadelphia artists Amos Lee and Sharon Little, LEAP was recorded at Philadelphia’s Milkboy and Retro City Studios. Although LEAP was compiled after IVA moved back to the United States, she will freely admit that it captures the essence of who she “discovered” while immersed within the muse that is Sweden.
While preparing for the album, IVA opened for Grammy winner Paula Cole, showcased before singer Kat Edmonson and performed on acclaimed producer Emile Haynie’s album We Fall. IVA’s own album preparations became reality through the boundless reaches of the internet with a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that exceeded their funding goals and allowed more time in studio with Tim.
In discussing the new EP, IVA remarked about the process of working with Tim Sonnefeld: “Tim is one of the most solid musicians, and people, I have ever worked with. He understood my vision, nurtured it and took us every step of the way with an amazing ear and attitude.”
“Over the few years we performed these songs, the band took them into their hearts,” IVA declared, “I feel fulfilled and satisfied with the whole experience. This is my third recording and I know this is how the process is meant to be. I look forward to playing these and other songs from my first two records with this amazing band of musical brothers”.
IVA continues to perform her classical repertoire both in the US and overseas. She will tour Europe with Julie Nishimura in summer 2015, with dates in Poland, Germany and Sweden singing Scandinavian songs, Chopin, Copland and Debussy. Today, that persona she “discovered” while in Sweden reaches out beyond the stage and studio. IVA is part of the Musicians on Call program, aiding the ill and the infirmed through the Wilmington-area hospitals. She also teaches vocal lessons at the Grand Opera House. IVA has credited WSTW’s Hometown Heroes program, the Grand Opera House and the World Cafe Live, with developing her audience and supporting her work.
All of her endeavors have not gone without notice in her ancestral Sweden. Recently, IVA was awarded the Årets Svensk Amerikan (Swedish-American of the Year); an annual award presented by the Vasa Order of America since 1960. Recipients, either Swedish or American by birth, have made significant contributions to the relationship between the two countries. Past honorees, including iconic astronaut Buzz Aldrin and actress/sex-symbol Ann-Margret, have been honored with a Golden Plaque, diploma, and their name added to the commemorative Swedish American of the Year tablet, kept in Växjö. IVA’s musical talents have brought honor and enjoyment to both of her “home” countries.