Musician Spotlight: Zoiea Ohizep

Jun 24, 2019

Zoiea Ohizep is an experienced R&B and Jazz musician who has played with some of the best in the industry. He’s been obsessed with music ever since a drum break in a James Brown song grabbed his attention when he was only 5 years old. Ever since that day, he’s been in love with music. He may play the keyboard but he’s truly a percussionist at heart — he describes himself as a “funky pocket drummer who loves all music.”


His personal inspirations include: Elmo Palamino (“He has always encouraged me to continue with my music and writing.”); Craig Derry and the rest of the Derry family (“They taught me to sing and harmonize.”); and Sophia, Beverly, and Beulah James (“They taught me how to overcome my shyness and helped me improve my harmonies.”)

One of Zoiea’s biggest musical inspirations is Billy Joe Dowdy, a songwriter for the Sound of Philadelphia in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Although he worked with larger producers and writers at the time, his name was not always captured in all the credits. Zoiea draws on him for inspiration whenever he writes and even inscribes his initials at the top of the page.

Zoiea has played for the past 44 years and shows no sign of stopping. What’s amazing is his unwavering commitment even though he is unable to fully dedicate himself to his music. He’s a full-time surgical technician with a family. On a good week, he can set aside roughly 15 hours for his music which, in his own words, “just isn’t enough.”

The biggest struggle for Zoiea as a part-time musician is not having the money and time to work on his music full-time. Zoiea works a full-time job to support his family and take care of their needs. And when you have responsibilities beyond your own, something has to give. His advice for other professional musicians with limited time to dedicate to their passion: “if it is truly your passion, devote as much time as possible to better your craft and push to get yourself visible.” Zoiea recently worked on a song written and produced by Bob Baldwin, an American musical composer. He’s also the drummer for the band Crown Heights Affair which you can follow here. You can check out Zoiea’s music here and watch his performance for MTF below!


Listen to their work:

Musician Spotlight: Allan Mayes

We spoke with Allan to share his story of how he began playing, what brought him to MTF, and what he’s up to now:  How did you get your (musical) start? What inspired you to start playing music in the first place? Like millions of others, the Beatles inspired me to start playing music at […]

Musician Spotlight: Christopher Brown

Christopher Brown has been a street musician, playing in towns and cities across the country for almost 8 years.  He’s also played in music venues in NYC, Boston, Pittsburgh, Eugene OR, Seattle, San Francisco, and many other places.  It’s taken a long time to get to this point, throwing himself into music completely, and having […]

Musician Spotlight: Thor Harris

On average, professional musicians spend over 90% of their time performing live on the road, away from personal and medical support systems. Injuries can arise at any moment from the repetitive intensity of playing instruments and from unexpected accidents. With this in mind, we are a unique nonprofit – in design, scope, and breadth – […]