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Throatsinger heads to East Coast

Adam Johnson
Northern News Services

Coppermine (May 08/06) - A Nunavummiut throat singer has entered into a unique collaboration between different traditional worlds.

Kugluktuk's Angela Hovak-Johnston, 30, has contributed her unique rhythmic vocals to a new CD, "Dramatic Reminiscence," by Drumlin, a Maritime "folk-pop" act from Bridgewater, N.S.

"We're getting lots of attention here in Nova Scotia with this," she said, during a group interview in Bridgewater with two members of the band.

The band consists of four young siblings: Liam Gilbert, 7, on drums, Kassia, 12, on cello, Anya Gilbert, 14, on violin and mandolin and Dal Gilbert, 18, on guitar.

Their music is a fusion of traditional Maritime and pop melodies, Anya said.

The fusion between Northern and eastern traditions is best demonstrated by the track "Papillon," in which Hovak-Johnston's vocals ride and rise above a quick violin melody, creating a unique wall of sound.

Kassia, who wrote the song, said it was inspired by a cross-country train trip.

"It's a celebration of Canadian culture and nature," she said.

Hovak-Johnston said the response from local media was very positive.

"(A reporter) said it was the most unique thing they have ever heard in their life," she said.

Hovak-Johnston said the collaboration was natural, as the family has a "great respect for the North," having spent a few years living in Fort St. James in northern B.C.

She said they even had a dog-team at one point.

"They're more Inuit than I am. I didn't have a dog team," she said, sending the room into a fit of giggles.

Hovak-Johnston said she has performed around the country, including appearances at Yellowknife's annual Folk on the Rocks festival in 1999 and 2000 with Tanya Tagaq Gillis.

Despite her travels, Hovak-Johnston calls herself a "closet throat singer," as she is self-taught.

"But not really, because we didn't have a closet," she said with a laugh.

Adding to the CD's Northern connection, Hovak-Johnston said the album will be available for sale in Cambridge Bay and Kugluktuk.

She is in the process of completing a solo CD as well, which she hopes will be out "in the next few months."