A Circumpolar Soundscape

The Adäka Cultural Festival is a new, focused showcase aimed at developing visual arts, honing performance skills, and promoting the revitalization of Yukon First Nations culture.

Along with these goals, the festival presents opportunities such as A Circumpolar Soundscape – opportunities for First Nations artists and performers to draw inspiration from each other, and for Yukon audiences to enjoy the immediate results.

For musicians Diyet (Yukon), Leela Gilday (NWT), and Nive Nielson (Greenland) the Adäka Festival is a chance to draw inspiration by sharing and collaborating.

Although these three women hail from different parts of the circumpolar north, each is charting a similar course to the rest of the world.

Diyet – a member of the Kluane First Nation and a resident of Burwash Landing – received two Aboriginal Music Award nominations in 2010 for her debut recording The Breaking Point.

Her album also hit the Number One spot on the National Aboriginal Music Countdown.

Leela Gilday, a Juno and Western Canadian Music Award winning artist, is renowned on the Canadian musical landscape as a strong and vibrant performer.

Like Diyet, she has a degree in voice and is making her mark as a singer-songwriter from the North.

Nive Nielsen is proudly Inuk and an official cultural ambassador for her country. She tours internationally on a regular basis and is considered one of the top musicians from Northern Europe who showcased at SXSW (South by Southwest) 2011 this year.

At the Adäka Festival, these three distinct First Nations musical artists will both explore each other’s music and create new material together over a two-day period. This workshop is a rare opportunity for artists from very different cultures to connect on a creative level.

On the third day of the workshop, the singers will start working with a backup band to prepare a performance of the work they created just hours before.

The concert is a special highlight of the Adäka Festival; it will break borders, bringing local, national and international talent together.

A Circumpolar Soundscape is the brainchild of Debbie Peters of Magnum Opus Management in Whitehorse. Peters has worked with Yukon and NWT artists over the last four years to assist them with market development.

“Leela and Diyet are both artists whose music I love, and I wanted to help them to reach a broader audience,” says Peters. She had an idea for a circumpolar concert but was missing a third artist who would make the concert truly circumpolar.

That changed when she met Howard Monk at the Breakout West Festival in 2010, and discovered that he represented artists from Northern Europe.

She shared her idea of a collaborative circumpolar concert with him, and Monk proposed Nive Nielsen as the perfect complement to Diyet and Gilday. After discussions with Adäka Festival co-producer Katie Johnson, A Circumpolar Soundscape was born.

“Each of these women has a very unique style as a musician, but they also have similarities with the stories they tell through their songs,” says Johnson. “There is not another collaboration of this type that I am aware of.”

A Circumpolar Soundscape concert will take place at the Yukon Arts Centre at 8 pm on July 7.

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