Iqua Colson

Iqua Colson

Vocalist IQUA COLSON has shared the stage with many of this era’s great artists. She was named a Vocal Talent Deserving Wider Recognition by Downbeat Magazine and has been recognized by Billboard Magazine for distinguished achievement as a lyricist. The international media has praised her placing her in the company of some of our finest known vocal innovators and stylists including Betty Carter, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Abby Lincoln. She has 3 recordings, has led bands and collaborated with several artists, most frequently with her husband pianist/composer Steve Colson, performing in the U.S and internationally on festivals and concerts.

In addition to her recognition as a performer, Iqua has successfully initiated and/or produced concerts, festivals and arts education projects in Chicago, New York City, and the Essex County area of New Jersey. She has been the architect of several projects working with such organizations as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Symphony Space, The City of Newark, The Chicago Cultural Council, Columbia University, The Jazz Institute of Chicago, The New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The Great Hall at Cooper Union, The Montclair Art Museum, and The New Jersey Chamber Music Society.

Born and raised in Chicago, Iqua entered Kenwood High School already an accomplished pianist. Her high school music teacher was acclaimed composer Lena McLin, the niece and student of the famed Thomas Dorsey, “father of gospel music.” She entered Northwestern University School of Music after three years at Kenwood, later transferring to Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt University where she completed her undergraduate Music Degree. Iqua became a member of the Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in the early ‘70s. In addition to performing while in Chicago, Iqua was a leader in many successful initiatives for the AACM and other arts organizations. These initiatives were implemented to present the arts to large and diverse audiences. She served as a member of The Board of Directors of The Jazz Institute of Chicago during which time the popular annual Chicago Jazz Festival grew to a week long celebration and she was a founding member of FEPA, producers of Chicago’s internationally acclaimed “Underground Fest” and “Blacklight Film Festival.”

Iqua became a Music Team Leader in East Orange, New Jersey’s Washington Academy of Music at the school’s inception in 1994. An impressive and challenging music curriculum was developed at Washington helping to bring national recognition and awards to the students, the school, and the district. She then worked for 5 years as the coordinator of arts programs for the East Orange School District focusing on curriculum development and special projects in the arts that benefited students in all of the schools while assisting in specific award winning efforts in the 5 schools that had the arts as central to their theme. Iqua is a member of The State of New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Content Committee for the Arts and served on The Board of Directors of The Newark Arts Council from 2001-2004. She is currently Vice Chair of The Montclair Arts Council. She has a Masters of Public Administration/Arts Administration from Seton Hall University and is currently consulting on several projects in arts education and the use of the arts as a catalyst for educational and/or social change. These projects include everything from neighborhood planning and arts venue design to curriculum.

When they left Chicago in 1982 Iqua and her husband, noted pianist and composer Steve Colson, moved to Montclair, New Jersey, a town 12 miles west of New York City. Shortly after their arrival in Montclair the town became a popular destination for a number of great jazz artists who relocated there with their families. The Colsons now have two grown sons. Iqua continues to write, perform and produce music and other arts based projects. Her ideas are creative and fresh, lending much to the sound of today’s progressive music, whether expressed through her original lyrics, standard tunes, or superb vocal improvisation. Her latest CD “Hope for Love” was done in partnership with Steve.

Iqua has performed with many creative artists including: Fred Anderson, Amiri Baraka, John Blake, T.K. Blue, Hamiet Bluiett, Bobby Bradford, Cecil Brooks, III, John Carter, Baikida Carroll, Andrew Cyrille, Anthony Davis, Hamid Drake, Kahil El’ Zabar, Douglas Ewart, Rachelle Farrell, Malachi Favors, Craig Harris, Billy Hart, Fred Hopkins, Joseph Jarman, Leroy Jenkins, Oliver Lake, George Lewis, Steve McCall, Rene’ McLean, Roscoe Mitchell, T.S. Monk, Wilber Morris, Dushun Mosley, David Murray, Amina Claudine Myers, Reggie Nicholson, John Purcell, Marlene Rice, Rasul Siddik, Warren Smith, Henry Threadgill, Steve Turre, Ed Wilkerson, Bruce Williams, and Reggie Workman.


*L’Aeronef (Lille, France)
*Panafest (Ghana)
*Red Sea Jazz Festival (Israel)
*The Great Hall at Cooper Union (New York City)
*Sons d’Hiver (Paris, France)
*The Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.)
*Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago)
*The North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland)
*Brooklyn Academy of Music-BAM (New York)
*Eclipse Jazz (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
*Symphony Space (New York City)
*Newport Jazz Festival (Rhode Island)
*Kool Jazz Festivals (Chicago, New York City,)
*Ellington Concert Series (Univ. Mass/Amherst)
*Bimhaus (Holland)
*Sweet Basil (New York City)
*New Jersey Performing Arts Center
*Festival Saalfelden (Austria)
*Women in Jazz Festival (New York City)
*Internazionale Jazz (Italy)
*New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
*Sistah’s Place (New York City)
*Keystone Korner (San Francisco)
*Jazz Showcase (Chicago)
*Jazz Konfrontation (Austria)
* Village Vanguard (New York City)

“What a nice collaboration of consummate vocal and pianistic artistry. Iqua is her own vocalist but she can turn a phrase with Sarah-esque refinement and polish.”
George Carroll

“Iqua appeared on stage…my immediate reaction was “where has she been hiding?” in a world of vapid vocalists with empty promises and no substance. Iqua was ‘tres magnifique’! Her articulation and knowledge of her craft was exceptional and her delivery simply divine.”
Jazz Improv Magazine

“Iqua Colson absorbs a multitude of influences to offer her own voice, smokey with a storyteller’s narrative abilities.”
Cadence Magazine

“The festival ended with a celebrated concert given by the Colsons.”
Kleine Zeitung Graz
“Vocalist Iqua Colson unleashed deeply soulful, consistently inventive scat singing.”
Howard Reich
Chicago Tribune

“Colson was fluid at the piano with Iqua vocalizing efficiently with fascinating phrasing.”
Coda Magazine
“……. Iqua’s beautiful vocal work make(s) this group outstanding.”
Downbeat Magazine

“…..It is Iqua who captivates us with her formidable presence. In unison with the sax or improvising on lyrics or scatting, always her voice wins us over...”
Alex Dutilh, Jazz Hot Magazine


“Triumph!” Silver Sphinx SS01
“No Reservation” Black Saint BSR 0043
“Hope for Love” Silver Sphinx SS12402

Select Independent Arts Development and Education Projects

• Consultant for Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District in the programs, planning and design for the Museum of African American Music
• Consultant on design and structure of The Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts
• Consultant for the Department of Planning and Development City of East Orange
• Consultant with The Non Profit Sector Resource Institute at Seton Hall University
• Consultant for the City of Orange: Strategic plan for “ Valley Arts” neighborhood revitalization project
• Consultant for the Division of Cultural Affairs - Strategic Plan for Essex County
• Consultant for The Office of The Secretary of State – Special Projects in the Arts
• Architect and proposal writer for commissioned works for orchestra, theater, literature, dance and chamber
• Consultant for Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art
• Consultant for The New Jersey Performing Arts Center
• Consultant for Arts Council of Essex
• Project Director in collaboration with The Smithsonian Institution
• Consultant for New Jersey Chamber Music Society
• Producer for American Music Week at The Great Hall of Cooper Union, NYC
• Architect of cooperative arts project through Arts Partners, Washington,D.C.
• Consultant on Arts Core Curriculum Standards implementation in three school districts: Montclair, Teaneck and
Orange, New Jersey
• Consultant for Dodge Foundation, Playwright’s Theater and Music For All Foundation in Conjunction with The
Office of Standards in The NJ Department of Education
• Associate producer of Onstage in New Jersey
• Consultant for collaborative exhibit by Aljira Gallery and Walsh Gallery at Seton Hall
• Organized and produced three international Jazz Festivals in Chicago
• Consultant for The Chicago Cultural Center
• Member of Jazz Institute of Chicago Board of Directors, founding The Chicago Jazz Festival / Attendance
35,000-50,000 per night

For more information visit Iqua’s website:

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