IVA’s vocal prowess and phenomenal range have garnered her international recognition. She possesses an uncanny ability to switch seamlessly from pop-style vocals into full operatic singing within the same song. IVA is universally applauded as a rare crossover singer, songwriter, and vocal coach with an extraordinary career of 15 years. As a pioneer in the male-dominated music industry, IVA embodies women’s empowerment, inspiring and training many promising young female artists.
From Wilmington, Delaware, Emily Tepe was born into a musical family. Thus, she began her lifelong love affair with music at a very young age. Emily was influenced by her grandfather, a highly talented oboe player who led ensembles throughout his life. His dedication and love for music inspired young Emily to follow in his footsteps. She was particularly mesmerized by Evelyn Swenson, a well-known composer and conductor at Opera Delaware, where she was trained in opera singing at the age of 9.
The highly eclectic performer also has an impressive academic background in music. She was trained as a classical soprano at The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music and graduated from Princeton University’s world-class performance program. IVA was mentored by numerous notable teachers, including W. Stephen Smith, Kishti Tomita, and Don Marrazzo, who apprenticed with Celine Dion’s vocal teacher. Soon after, IVA was granted a Fulbright scholarship to study her ancestors’ music in Sweden, where she lived for 6 years. This was a pivotal step in her career.
IVA’s first breakthrough was when she made her first appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, showcasing her unique gift. Her fateful performance transformed her career from a classical opera singer to an international pop star. Since then, she has performed and toured around the world, releasing multiple hit albums, including”Ivolution” in 2009, which was picked up by Universal Sweden, “Leap” in 2015, and more recently “Traitor,” released in 2019. She has collaborated with multiple Grammy-award-winning producers and highly acclaimed artists, such as Tim Sonnefeld, Jaron Olevsky, and Trey Pollard.
History was made when IVA became the youngest person to receive the Vasa Order’s Swedish American of the Year award for her revolutionary career and involvement U.S and Swedish intercultural relations. Other laureates of this prestigious award include Ann Margret, Buzz Aldrin, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and Nils Lofgren of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
Unlike her career, IVA’s personal life hasn’t been entirely glamorous. She was in a turbulent relationship that resulted in domestic violence. “It shocked me, and I felt like it threw me off course for a while, yet I came out of that experience with growth and strength.” To shed light on domestic violence, she wrote the hit song “Immense Tenderness.” “It is something I wanted to share in my artistry – that even if you think it’s your darkest hour, there is hope, and there is light. Speak up and get help,” she says.
“Immense Tenderness” received widespread praise, leading IVA to adapt it into an operatic piece that is expected to be released in early 2024
We had the opportunity to sit down with IVA to discuss her passion and love for music.
When did you develop your love for music?
When I was a child my father, grandparents, and closest family friends exposed me to a ton of music, both recorded music they were playing on their own instruments. I heard eclectic styles, sang, played, and conducted along. When I saw The Beatles in “Hard Day’s Night” at age 5, I became completely hooked on music and watched the movie every morning before school. I also poured through my father’s record collection … man, he was nice letting an elementary school kid play all his LPs!
If you could choose 3 words to describe your creativity in your music, what would it be?
Share my world
Can you remember the first time you heard your music on the radio? What was the experience like?
I believe I was driving in Sweden and I pulled over to the side of the road because I was so excited to hear my song playing. But really, I didn’t listen to the radio that much so I was hearing music as I made it, not as it was released. It’s the experience of making music that really turns me on.
If you could attribute your success to anyone, who would it be?
My family and best family friends nurtured me and gave me everything I needed to experience my passion for music. They helped me with lessons and school and then to fill in the financial and living gaps when I was building my career. I wouldn’t be where I am without them and I am so grateful.
Who are your musical influences?
The Beatles (obviously), Rufus Wainwright, Cole Porter, Ella Fitzgerald, Claude Debussy, Alban Berg, J.S. Bach, Laurie Anderson, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Florence, and the Machine, Phillip Glass, Madonna, Beach House, Aimee Mann, Barbara Bonney, Maria Callas, Sting, Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Hozier, Bat for Lashes, Natalie Prass, Enya … shall I keep going?
What message do you hope listeners take away from your work?
That when you dig deep you can find peace, even in the most challenging of situations.
What is next for IVA?
I’m composing an opera based on my experience as a victim of domestic abuse. It’ll stretch me as a writer and as a singer while helping me face some of the specters of society, and hopefully, help others in the process.
What is your definition of a Pretty Woman Who Hustles?
Someone who takes pride in all that she is and knows how to work her craft with dedication and consistency, even when the going gets rough.
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