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The sweet sound of success

Daron Letts
Northern News Services

Toronto (Dec 19/05) - When Tanya Tagaq Gillis stood on stage in Toronto last month to accept the Aboriginal Music Award for Best Female Artist, she said it was like being in a dream.

"That moment was very removed from reality," she said.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Sinaa, Tagaq's award-winning CD, features a dozen original songs. The recording artist says she is already planning for her next album. - photo courtesy of Tanya Tagaq Gillis

Tagaq's CD, Sinaa, also earned honours for Juan Hernandez and Jose "Triki" Trincado (Best Producer) and for Oscar Poza and Montse (Best Album Design).

The Nov. 25 awards gala, Tagaq's first, introduced the artist to a whole new side of the recording industry.

"It was really interesting for me because I'd never really set foot in the aboriginal music scene before," she said. "I've really just been floating on my own and I felt a sense of community there."

During the ceremony, Tagaq performed a short solo that led into Breather, the last song on her album.

She didn't take a breather after winning her awards, however.

Tagaq sang at the First Canadian Folk Music Awards in Ottawa earlier this month.

She will be home in Cambridge Bay for a few weeks over the holidays. She plans to work on a series of paintings that will depict contemporary interpretations of traditional Inuit legends.

She'd like to collect a number of her paintings for a gallery exhibition, but success gets in the way.

"I'd love to have an exhibition, but what happens is they always sell, so I never have enough to put on a full exhibition," she said. "If I can build up enough of them I'd love to have one."

After some time at home with family, Tagaq will tour across Canada with the San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet early in the new year.

She will cap the tour with a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York.

"I never dreamed I'd be singing at Carnegie Hall," she said. "It's a real honour."

The quartet got in touch with Tagaq a few years ago. The musicians met with her in Boston shortly after her toddler, Naia, was born.

Members of the quartet are composing music to complement and challenge Tagaq's voice.

Although their tour begins in Whitehorse on Jan. 21, Tagaq still hasn't heard the music or rehearsed with the quartet. They won't be in the same city until the of middle January.

"It's the equivalent of a musical bungee jump, I guess," she said. "I'm used to improvising so it doesn't scare me at all."

Tagaq will return to Cambridge Bay again in May after her debut at Carnegie Hall. She may perform during the Omingmak Frolics if she can fit it into her schedule.

"I hope some day that I can do my show that I do in the south in the North," she said. "I'll see if that can happen, because I'd like to show people at home what I'm doing because I've only done a bit of a cappella stuff in the North."

In the summer, Tagaq plans to tour in Canada on the folk festival circuit.

"I'm starting to brew ideas for my new album," she said. "And I'm being a mom and loving that and just loving life, basically."