Email this articleE-mail this story  Letter to the EDITORWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad

Throat singing taken to new level

Jennifer Geens
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 26/04) - Before the birth of her daughter Naia last September, Tanya Tagaq Gillis was only juggling careers as a singer and a painter. Now she has added new mom to her list of occupations.

Tanya Tagaq Gillis performs in 2002 at Fort Smith. Gillis comes to Yellowknife next week to perform at Lucille's Cabaret. - NNSL file photo

The Cambridge Bay throatsinger comes to Yellowknife next week to perform at Lucille's. Normally throatsinging is performed by two or more women, but Gillis takes the Inuit musical tradition and blends it with modern music for a unique effect.

Whatever people think of her music, Gillis is okay with it.

"Some people hate it, like everything that's different," she said.

Her performances are always one of a kind, as throatsinging is mostly improvised. She also hopes to collaborate with a few other musicians, or play with the sounds off a CD.

She said her audience should expect "surprising fun" next weekend.

Gillis is excited to be coming back to Yellowknife. She's also excited to be back in Canada. She spent most of the past year living in Spain, where her husband, Filipe Ugarte, is from.

She toured Europe while pregnant with her now six - month-old daughter, and since the birth has sung in the Canary Islands, as well as in Urnitia, in the Basque region of Spain where she was making her home.

"The winters over there are beautiful," she said.

"It's plus-15 and there are palm trees."

Now she's brought her Basque husband home to the Arctic.

"He's freezing his poor ass off," she said.

Ugarte froze one of his toes while digging a dog shelter outdoors in Cambridge Bay.

The two met at the Vancouver Folk Festival in 2001, but they didn't actually speak to each other until they met again at the festival the following summer.

"The first year we were too chicken to talk," she said.

Although she's only been back for two weeks, Gillis said the North comes as somewhat of a relief after 10 months in Europe.

"I'm really, really happy to be home," she said.

"I felt like I was kind of stifled. I couldn't be myself. Here people are really real."