Born in Austin, Texas and raised in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Ikechi Onyenaka is a 20 year old multi-instrumentalist that is on the rise. Although his primary instrument is the alto saxophone, he also plays the tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, piano, keyboard, organ, bass, and drums. Ikechi’s musical journey began in 2006 when he became a member of the Highland Park Elementary School concert band in the 4th grade. He had recently started playing the clarinet and was just getting his feet wet in instrumental music. He played classical music for a year and was later accepted into the schools Jazz Band in the 5th grade. He connected with jazz music on a deep level and sought out to teach himself jazz clarinet. After years of perfecting his sound on the clarinet, Ikechi decided to purchase an alto saxophone in the 9th grade in hopes to achieve the sound that he was looking for. Shortly after, the alto saxophone became his main instrument because he was able to truly express himself while playing music with ease on the instrument. From there, he took it upon himself to learn how to play the rhythm section instruments (piano, keyboard, bass, and drums) so that he could describe the music that he was hearing in his head to his band members.
Ikechi’s musical style draws from multiple sources and genres. He likes explore in the genres of Jazz, Funk, R&B, Neo Soul, and Hip Hop. He uses his original music to capitalize on events or obstacles that he overcame or is in the process of overcoming in attempt to help others that may be going through similar situations. Ikechi’s playing and composition is heavily influenced by numerous artists. His main musical inspirations are Alex Han, Grover Washington Jr, Gerald Albright, Kenny Garrett, Terrace Martin, Casey Benjamin, Michael Brecker, Stevie Wonder, Robert Glasper, Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, and Nas.
Throughout out his music career, Ikechi has performed at multiple events around the Philadelphia. Some of these events are Pennsylvania State Representative Margo Davidson’s 4th Annual Community Picnic & Backpack Giveaway, Upper Darby Mayor Tom Micozzie’s 69th St Studio Movie Grill Grand Opening VIP Party, Brad Schoener Music & Arts Festival, Upper Darby School District Arts Festival, Drexelbrook Cocktail Hour, Pennsylvania State Representative Margo Davidson’s 5th Annual Egg Nog Sip Open House, Upper Darby Chicken Festival, and The Beatpeace Show to name a few. During his high school career, Ikechi was given the opportunity to perform the American National Anthem to kick off the Brad Schoener Memorial Fund 5k Walk/Run and Music Marathon on Saturday, May 17th, 2014. That same year, he was handpicked by Anthony Tidd, the director of the Creative Music Program for Jazz Faculty, to enroll in the Kimmel Center Jazz Camp of Philadelphia with no audition required. In this camp, he became the first chair alto saxophonist in the Kimmel Center Magenta Ensemble, the elite ensemble. Ikechi has also performed at numerous talent shows. On July Saturday July, 30th, 2016, Ikechi and his quartet won the first place prize in the Teen/Adult Talent Nigh held at Theater 45 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.
Ikechi has also made an impact on the music scene at Penn State Altoona, in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Since the beginning of his enrolment at the college, Ikechi garnered a reputation as an up and coming saxophonist, with numerous students referring to him with the nickname “Sax Guy”. He obtained this nickname because he was widely known for practicing his saxophone by the campuses pond area. In February 2016, he made it on the headline for Altoona Mirror for performing at Penn State Altoona’s 7th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Reflection Lunch. He was also had a news story done on him by Penn State Altoona entitled “Altoona Students Love for Music is Heard Throughout Campus” that was released on Monday, February 27th, 2017.
Ikechi has had the opportunity to play with numerous artists, both in and outside of Penn State Altoona. Some of them include artists such as Reggie Wayne Morris, Beatpeace, Eh440, Flute Juice, Al Chez, Lilac Ocean, and Ja’far Barron to name a few. On Sunday, April 23rd, 2017, Ikechi Onyenaka and his band, East Coast Experiment, were given the opportunity to open for Khalid and The Strumbellas at the Ivyside Off the Rails Concert held at the Altoona Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Ikechi aspires to become a solo artist as well as a sideman for mainstream and independent artists.