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Inuit performers decry cultural appropriation in upcoming Indigenous Music Awards – The Globe and Mail

by ahnationtalk on May 3, 201986 Views

Nearly extinct by the middle of the 20th century, the art of Inuit throat singing (or katajjaq) is enjoying a renaissance. At the vanguard is Tanya Tagaq, an avant-garde vocalist who won the Polaris Music Prize in 2014 for Animism, judged to be the year’s best Canadian album in 2014. She’s not alone in the growing list of female musicians with a gift for the intense, performative growl. Others in the field include Kathleen Merritt, Nancy Mike of the Jerry Cans, sisters Tiffany Ayalik and Inuksuk Mackay of the duo Piqsiq and, a relative newcomer, the fast-rising electro-pop pixie known as Riit.

“The space for throat singers, and Indigenous artists in general, is there right now,” Riit says from Iqaluit. “It’s something to see.”

Something to see, and maybe to imitate. With the Arctic vocal art’s new popularity comes proprietorial issues. Recently, a non-Inuit throat singer (Connie LeGrande, a Canadian Cree who performs under the name Cikwes) earned a nomination in the folk-music category at the Indigenous Music Awards happening May 17 in Winnipeg.

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