Tanya Tagaq

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Tanya Tagaq
Tanya Tagaq Gillis, 2017 (cropped).jpg
Tanya Tagaq, in 2017.
Background information
Born (1975-05-05) May 5, 1975 (age 43)
OriginCambridge Bay, Nunavut, Canada
GenresA cappella, throat singing, folk
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
Years active2002–present
LabelsJericho Beach, Six Shooter, Ipecac
Tanya Tagaq, Moers Festival 2012

Tanya Tagaq CM (born Tanya Tagaq Gillis, May 5, 1975) is a Canadian Inuk throat singer from Cambridge Bay (Iqaluktuutiaq), Nunavut, Canada, on the south coast of Victoria Island.[1][2]

Life and work[edit]

At the age of 15, after attending school in Cambridge Bay, Tagaq went to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories to attend Sir John Franklin High School where she first began to practice throat singing. She later studied visual arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and while there developed her own solo form of Inuit throat singing, which is normally done by two women.[3] Her decision to go solo was a pragmatic one: she did not have a singing partner.[4]

Tagaq was a popular performer at Canadian folk festivals, such as Folk on the Rocks in 2005,[5] and first became widely known both in Canada and internationally for her collaborations with Björk, including concert tours and the 2004 album Medúlla. She has also performed with the Kronos Quartet and Shooglenifty and has been featured on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.

In 2005, her CD entitled Sinaa (Inuktitut for "edge") was nominated for five awards at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards. At the ceremony on 25 October 2005, the CD won awards for Best Producer/Engineer, Best Album Design and Tagaq herself won the Best Female Artist award. Sinaa was nominated for the 2006 Juno Awards as the Best Aboriginal Recording.[6] Also in 2005, Tagaq collaborated with Okna Tsahan Zam, a Kalmyk Khoomei throat singer, and Wimme, a Sami yoiker from Finland, to release the recording Shaman Voices.[7]

Although primarily known for her throat singing, Tagaq is also an accomplished artist and her work was featured on the 2003 Northwestel telephone directory.[8]

Her 2008 album Auk/Blood (ᐊᐅᒃ Inuktitut syllabics)[9] features collaborations with Mike Patton, among others. In 2011, she released a live album titled Anuraaqtuq. It was recorded during Tagaq's performance at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle in Victoriaville.

In 2012 Tagaq performed the theme music for the CBC television show Arctic Air.[10]

Tagaq released her third album, Animism, on May 27, 2014 on Six Shooter Records.[11] The album was a shortlisted nominee for the 2014 Polaris Music Prize, her first nomination for that award,[12] and won the $30,000 award on September 22, 2014.[13] The album also won the Juno Award for Aboriginal Recording of the Year at the Juno Awards of 2015,[14] and was nominated for Alternative Album of the Year.

Since the initial collaboration with the Kronos Quartet in 2005, Tagaq and the Quartet have performed together at venues across North America, from the January 2006 debut of the project Nunavut at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver, British Columbia through to the New York's Spring for Music Festival at Carnegie Hall presentation of composer Derek Charke's, 13 Inuit Throat Song Games (2014). In 2015, Tagaq was commissioned to write a piece for the Kronos' Fifty for the Future project.[15]

Her fourth album Retribution was released in October 2016.[16] Her show in Toronto in November was sold out.[17]

In December 2016, Tagaq was named a Member of the Order of Canada.[18]

In 2017, Tagaq and fellow Polaris laureate Buffy Sainte-Marie collaborated on the single "You Got to Run (Spirit of the Wind)", which appeared on Sainte-Marie's album Medicine Songs.[19] The song was inspired by George Attla, a champion dog sled racer from Alaska.[20] Tagaq has also appeared as a guest vocalist on songs by July Talk ("Beck + Call") and Weaves ("Scream").

In May 2018, Tagaq announced her first book, a blend of fiction and memoir titled Split Tooth, which was published in September 2018 by Penguin Random House.[21] The book was named as a longlisted nominee for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize.[22]

Awards and recognition[edit]


List of studio albums, with awards and nominations
Title Album Details Nominations and awards
Auk/Blood (ᐊᐅᒃ)
List of live albums
Title Album details
  • Released: 2011
  • Label: Les Disques VICTO


  • Going Home Star(2015)[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nelles, Drew (February 2015). "Howl:Why Tanya Tagaq sings". The Walrus. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  2. ^ "Tanya Tagaq Gillis". Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art-Centre de l'art contemporain canadien. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  3. ^ Khanna, Vish." Tanya Tagaq Takes it Back", Exclaim!, September 2008.
  4. ^ "Tanya Tagaq Takes Flight | Herizons Magazine". www.herizons.ca. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  5. ^ Performers from 2005 Archived May 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Aboriginal Recording of the Year Nominee
  7. ^ C. Parker (2005): Shaman Voices, The Wire, Issues 251-256
  8. ^ "News releases - Northwestel". Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  9. ^ "Nunavut Living Dictionary". Retrieved September 19, 2016.
  10. ^ Arctic Air Theme Song
  11. ^ Sneak peak: Tanya Tagaq's new album Archived February 1, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Arcade Fire, Drake, Shad make Polaris Music Prize short list". CTV News, July 15, 2014.
  13. ^ "Tanya Tagaq Wins 2014 Polaris Music Prize" Archived September 26, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. Exclaim!, September 22, 2014.
  14. ^ "2015 Junos: Bahamas, Arkells, Rush big winners at 'Junos Eve' gala". CBC Music, March 14, 2015.
  15. ^ "Kronos Quartet". kronosquartet.org. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  16. ^ "Tanya Tagaq Covers Nirvana, Collaborates with Shad on 'Retribution' LP". Exclaim!, August 17, 2016.
  17. ^ "Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq finds her own key". Toronto Star, Ben Rayner, Nov. 25, 2016, page E5
  18. ^ "Order of Canada's newest appointees include Paralympian, Supreme Court judge and astrophysicist". CBC News, December 30, 2016.
  19. ^ "Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tanya Tagaq Share New Collaboration". Exclaim!, February 21, 2017.
  20. ^ Queens of Indigenous Music Buffy Ste-Marie and Tanya Tagaq Unite for “You Got To Run (Spirit Of The Wind)”. RPM.fm, February 22, 2017.
  21. ^ "Polaris Prize-winning musician Tanya Tagaq is publishing her first book". CBC Books, May 3, 2018.
  22. ^ "Esi Edugyan, Patrick deWitt, Tanya Tagaq among 12 authors longlisted for 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize". CBC Books, September 17, 2018.
  23. ^ "Full list of Juno winners". The Toronto Star. 2017-04-02. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
  24. ^ "Going Home Star | Canadian Music Centre | Centre de Musique Canadienne". www.musiccentre.ca. Retrieved 2017-10-21.

External links[edit]