I first met Iris in a book. Not a fairy tale story or a childrens book, but a book called “Life is the School, Love is the lesson” about free schooling, a new form of Homeschooling being done on the island of Kauai. She had written a small piece about her experiences at the Kauai Music Festival Songwriting contest that she had won in 2011. I was so intrigued by her story that I looked her up on Facebook and found that we had a friend in common that I went to Highschool with. I messaged her and asked her about the Kauai Music Festival and from there we’ve become friends. I officially met her back in June when I drove to VT to see one of her shows at Nectars in Burlington, VT. Her soulful voice is a throw back to the Power Divas in their prime, but Iris doesn’t stick to just one genre. We are similar in that regard. We have love for music as a whole, not just a love for a specific genre or type. You can find her playing everything from Michael Jackson and Bob Marley, to Bonnie Raitt and Coldplay, but always with her special Iris brand stamped on it.
Iris is originally from Vermont, but took a few years to try living in the Hawaiian Islands, specifically Hanalei Bay, Kauai, where she made quite the name for herself. Due to some health issues she has returned to Vermont while awaiting her time to get a new Kidney. At just the young age of 24 Iris has gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows and is one of the strongest spirits I know.
Here is a little more information about Iris’ medical situation…
“Iris Downey, of Pacific Island heritage, was born and raised in Burlington, VT. In 2006 she was diagnosed with Acute Lupus Nephritis. After utilizing traditional western medicine and eating a raw vegan diet, Iris went into remission for a short period of time while living on the beautiful Island of Kauai, HI. She was able to establish a rich musical career and produce an album. However, given the strength and particular nature of her disease, it returned and quickly destroyed her kidneys. The doctors have told Iris that her only chance at a healthy life is to have a kidney transplant.”
-Patient Iris Downey “HelpHOPELive.com”
Age: 24… turning 23 in the next few months. :-)
Hometown/ Current Location: Burlington, VT/ Hanalei, Kauai, HI
Hobbies: Art. Anything that has to do with Arts and Crafts. I love to draw and create my own Press Materials.
Favorite Color: Glitter
If you could get on a plane right now, where would you go?: First Class/ Hawaiian Air/ JFK to Lihue, Kauai
What song are you singing in your head?: Mirror, Mirror by m2m
Last book read: Cowboys Are My Weakness by Pam Houston
Instagram Account ID: irisdowneymusic
What is your occupation and how did you get into this line of work?:
Currently I am a part time musician, and a part time disabled American, waiting for a kidney transplant.
Its been a long journey that started with writing poetry and singing. I taught myself how to play guitar. The turning point for me was going to the Kauai Music Festival and after that I took songwriting a lot more seriously. I started to work with Grammy award winner Charles Brotman on that first album. Now that I’m sick, i’m taking a break from full time music, but still writing and performing from time to time in Vermont. Hopefully when I get through this sickness I will continue writing not only for myself, but for other people as well.
What are some of the struggles you have had in your line of work?
What are some Victories?
In the last five years its been really up and down. At the beginning when I returned to hawaii it was hard to get connected with the right people, but when I did it was a blast. We would go all around Kauai and play all the different venues and it was fun to be apart of that and meeting all kinds of people.
Another struggle was all the work it took to have a presence, not only on the island, but online and getting recordings done on time. Being a one person jack of all trades in this industry is a lot of work. You don’t realize how much work goes into the music, but luckily its a passion project.
A huge success was winning the Kauai Music Festival in 2011. And my biggest struggle to date is just being sick. It came out of nowhere and now I’m trying to find the balance between taking care of myself and being myself. But I know there are more victories to come in the future so i’m looking forward to that.
What big things happened to you in 2013?
What are you looking forward to in 2014?
2013 was a year that just left me battered. Just going this time of being on Dialysis and needing a transplant has made me a different person.
But I see 2014 in a positive light, because I feel this year will be the year I get my transplant and can move on with my life. Im really excited about the new person I am and the person I will be when Im healthy again. The way that I’m looking at life and the way that life will unfold, Im just really excited about 2014. I have no clue what its going to look like, but Im totally open to all the possibilities.
Please share something that you could use some help with in the next year:
Please like my Facebook Page. I am always looking to connect and share my music with new people. A lot of my support these days is through social media. So getting engaged with that is a huge help. You can find the links below.
And if you are in the VT area it would be a huge support if you were to come to my shows. This is a huge form of support of me. I will have my CDs available at the shows and I would love to get a copy into your hands.
Keep an eye out for me as I start to get to my feet back under me and get back out in the world. I will need help in finding my way, getting back to what I was doing before, and just a simple check in from time to time would mean the world to me.
If you had the opportunity to tell the world one thing, what would it be?:
Take Care Of Yourself. Take care of your body and your heart.
Any other comments/information you’d like the readers to know?
Iris Downey’s links are:
FACEBOOK: Facebook.com/irisdowneymusic or search Iris in Bloom
TRANSPLANT INFORMATION: Helphopelive.org and search for patient Iris Downey