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.
— Wab Kinew (@WabKinew) December 27, 2019
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.
We are devastated that the North has lost a beautiful and powerful voice. Loss like this is felt across the entire community, beyond just music. Rest In Power, Kelly Fraser.
— Folk on the Rocks (@FolkontheRocks) December 27, 2019
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.
Working with Kelly Fraser in music has been an amazing experience and i feel so blessed to have worked with such a powerful inuk artist. She's been and still is a huge inspiration for me and my work as a music producer. Rest in peace, Kellykulu. I miss you and I love you ❤❤❤
— Aqqalu (@uyarakq) December 27, 2019
No funeral arrangements have been announced.
A GoFundMe campaign to support her siblings was launched Thursday.
Related stories from around the North:
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