Indigenous recording, performing, and award-winning artist IIWAA (pronounced ee-wah)–who performs Thursday, April 27th at the Tempe Center for the Arts—has a clear vision: to help bring Indigenous artistry into mainstream music while using his platform to love his community and to give back to his people. Proud to represent Gila River, Piipaash, and Quechan people, part of how IIWAA loves his community, gives back, and connects with his audience is through embracing and sharing his vulnerability, as described on his upcoming release Scared of the Dark.
“I’m elated to share the new songs and create room for the part of me that doesn’t make it to social media, isn’t part of my brand. The human behind the larger-than-life persona of IIWAA who has real doubts, fears, and need for close relationships. 2022 unlocked so many things but was also one of the loneliest times of my life.”
While IIWAA says a great deal of consideration goes into his recordings, he feels seeing a live show brings it all to life.
“IIWAA is made for live performance. I’ve refined what that looks like over the last few years and feel the Tempe Center for the Arts show will be the best one yet. I’m giving live vocals at the highest level possible: no auto-tune, no lip sync. It’s a visceral experience to give an engaging performance where I move and interact with the audience while still carrying the songs vocally. I’m also incorporating an element of live instruments that makes for more intimate moments and allows me to pay homage to the artists who inspire me.”
Although IIWAA has experienced significant success, he still focuses on growth and progress.
“I just finished my first big songwriting project for ESPN, which in turn means I’ve written for Disney. I’ve worked so hard to get here and have done it without cutting any corners. Done it without stepping on anyone. I’m looking forward to more life, longevity, vocal health, and to continuing to grow as a songwriter and performing in front of larger audiences. There will be so many sweet moments just like this. I may be the first artist from my tribes to achieve certain things, but if done correctly, I won’t be the last.”
IIWAA performs Thursday, April 27th at the Tempe Center for the Arts.