STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
A classically-trained opera singer from childhood, Emily Samson Tepe goes by the stage name Iva (pronounced EE-vuh) when she’s getting her pop singer on.
“Iva is a project where I can be my own self and follow my own aesthetic,” said the singer and vocal coach, who has a few fresh original songs to share on July 11 at Newtown Square’s Burlap and Bean coffeehouse. Iva will play piano, backed by area guitarist Nate Gonzalez and Sam Nobles on upright bass. The duo Flagship Romance is also on the bill that night.
The new, Kickstarter-funded mini-album “Leap” is officially released July 10, and has received airplay on WSTW-FM in Wilmington, WXPN in Philly and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s “UnderCurrents,” among others, Iva said.
A chance encounter at the gym with a casting director led to Iva gaining some high-profile fans in Conan O’Brien and “Conan” bandleader/E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg. She also has an international following. Currently back home in Delaware, Iva has just returned from a series of concert dates singing Scandinavian songs in Poland, Germany and Sweden — the latter being her official home away from home thanks to the six years she lived and studied there as a Fulbright Scholar.
In fact, on July 13 she’s due back in Sweden to receive that country’s Swedish-American of the year award — Årets Svensk Amerikan — which over the years has been bestowed upon the likes of astronaut Buzz Aldrin and singer/actress Ann-Margret.
“They’re very community- and group-oriented. It’s very important that there’s solidarity. You go do something with a group of Swedes, everybody’s pitching in without being asked. They aren’t a consumer culture,” she said, adding that Sweden has a successful national health care system.
When asked about how she came to cross over as a pop singer, she described it as an accident that began with renowned violinist Joshua Bell encouraging her to sing an Emmylou Harris song just for fun. This led to recording two pop albums in Sweden.
“It’s cool to do both (opera/classical and pop), and they inform each other,” she said, mentioning a time she performed a recital and a full-band concert in the same night at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.
Produced by Tim Sonnefeld (Usher, Amos Lee), “Leap” was recorded locally at Milkboy and Retro City Studios. “We even did some recording at my little farmhouse in Delaware. It’s in the middle of a cornfield,” Iva said.
“The songs are more human than the songs I’ve written before,” she said, describing her previous compositions as ambitiously spiritual and theoretical. “It’ll be nice to do them in the context of Burlap and Bean. The audience will feel how the song works.”
She sees no reason why she would give up pop or opera or teaching. One of her students is a Miss Delaware Outstanding Teen, another got a callback after auditioning for “The Voice;” one sings in a punk rock band, while another is a musical theater singer. “I take all the opportunities that come my way,” Iva commented.
There’s another Iva show set for July 24 at Doc Watson’s, 150 N. Pottstown Pike, Exton.
IF YOU GO
What: Iva in concert with Flagship Romance.
When: 8 p.m. July 11.
Where: Burlap and Bean Coffee, The Shops at Springton Pointe, 204 S. Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square.
Info: Call (484) 427-4527 and visit www.ivavoice.com.