Kelly Fraser, Canadian Inuk singer-songwriter, dead at 26

Inuk singer-songwriter Kelly Fraser, who rose to fame through YouTube for her Inuktitut cover of Rihanna’s Diamonds and later earned a Juno Award nomination, has died at 26. (CBC)
Kelly Fraser, an acclaimed Inuk singer-songwriter born in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, who had been living in Winnipeg, has died at age 26.

Fraser’s advocacy on behalf of youth and her Inuit throat-singing talents gained her a faithful following.

The cause of Fraser’s death earlier this week in the Manitoba capital hasn’t been announced.

Fraser started on guitar at age 11 and formed a band at 15. She rose to fame in 2013 after her sparkling Inuktitut cover of Rihanna’s Diamonds went viral.

Fraser released her first album, Isuma, in 2014. Her second album, Sedna in 2017, was nominated for best Indigenous music album at the 2018 Juno Awards honouring Canadian music.

Fraser also received the 2019 Indspire Award, recognizing First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals who demonstrate outstanding achievement.

Fraser talks of cultural pride in CBC doc

CBC released a documentary a year ago about the Inuit artist titled Kelly Fraser: Fight for the Rights in which she says she wants to increase cultural pride among youth in her community. Kelly’s story was part of The National‘s series “Seen and heard: Intimate stories of extraordinary lives.”

CBC has been in touch with Fraser’s family, who has asked for privacy at this time.

No funeral arrangements have been announced.

A GoFundMe campaign to support her siblings was launched Thursday.

In 2013, Kelly Fraser’s Inuktitut translation of Rihanna’s Diamonds went viral and the Inuk musician hasn’t stopped since.
If you need help or are in crisis, you can call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868, or the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310.
Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit artists boycott Indigenous Music Awards over cultural appropriation concerns, CBC News

Finland: Sámi rapper Ailu Valle wins Finnish state art prize, Eye on the Arctic

Interviews: Inuit artists in their own words, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway sends song with Sami joik to Eurovision Song Contest, The Independent Barents Observer

United Kingdom: U.K. fashion label apologizes for copied Inuit design, Radio Canada International

United States: Indian Agent, the Alaska band reclaiming Indigenous voices, Alaska Dispatch News

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