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Nkeiru Okoye

Creating music that engages communities & affects social change



Nkeiru Okoye [in KEAR roo   oh KOY yeh]  is an internationally recognized composer of opera, symphonic, choral, chamber, solo piano and vocal works. She is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in music composition and is perhaps best known for her opera, Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed that Line to Freedom; the orchestral work, Voices Shouting Out, composed as an artistic response to September 11th; and her suite, African Sketches, which is performed by pianists around the globe.

Dr. Okoye’s works defy categorization. They and are known for infusing a wide range of musical styles and influences that evoke all the senses and palpably conjure context for time and place. This results in an extraordinary musical experience that transports the listener to a specific emotion, event, or reckoning. One of her most recent symphonic works, Black Bottom, demonstrates this signature style, and The New York Times named it "one of the most engrossing musical portraits of Black history in the available repertoire."


Dr. Okoye is an award winning writer of poetry, prose, essays, and lyrics. She pens many of her own libretti and writes lyrics, but also collaborates with noted librettists and writers around the world. She is in demand as a speaker and educator, particularly about community engagement and music as an agent of change.


Other expertise:

Community Engagement

Multicultural Programming


Music Consulting


Doll making

​​General information

Nationality: United States, African American

Identifiers: Female/She/Hers

Pronunciation:  in KEAR roo   oh KOY yeh

For Vocalists - IPA pronunciation:  [ŋkiEɹu]


Orchestral music


classical crossover

chamber music



Picks of the Week

February 28, 2022

Harlem Chamber Players performed a sneak premiew of my latest, We Met at the Symphony.

March 24, 2022

Minnesota Public Media / American Public Radio aired a podcast about my work, for their series, Rhapsody in Black. featuring recordings of  pianist William Champman Nyaho and Soprano Louise Toppin

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Latest News

May 11, 2021

​Nkeiru Okoye, newly appointed Guggenheim Fellow in composition, begins opera based on true events of race bias and systemic inequities in the health care system that lead to detrimental diagnosing and care of patients.    Click here for press release






Research resources

From coloring books, text books, anthologies, the images below are linked to sites where these resources can be purchased.