Why I am happy Tanya Tagaq won the Polaris Music Prize

1. Her music is great. It’s cutting edge and interesting. I’m tired of hearing the same old love song on the radio. I’m bored of the standard rock band arrangement.  The music of Tanya Tagaq is weird. It’s wonderfully weird. At times it’s harsh to listen to, and at times its terrifying, but at all times it is refreshingly different.  She takes an old art form that the people of Nunavut are used to – Inuit throat singing – and morphs into this beautiful experimental and emotional style that ends up being strange to both Inuit people and folks in the rest of Canada. Why not challenge your ears? I love it.

2. Her music is weird, and it’s okay to be weird. Tanya Tagaq provides inspiration to all musicians feel the pressure to tailor their songs to be radio-friendly: three minutes long, with a danceable beat and a catchy hook. You know what: you don’t have to do that. Dare to be different.Do you think Tanya Tagaq’s style of music is popular in her hometown Cambridge Bay? Trust me, this is not the kind of music that the kids are dancing to at the teen dance in Cambridge Bay.  This is not the kind of music that the kids are dancing to at teen dances in Toronto either.  Tanya Tagaq doesn’t care that her song isn’t played by CHUM Radio. She just follows her artistic vision and goes for it.  And so can other musicians.  Your song can be six minutes long with no chorus.  Someone out there will appreciate that.

3. Tanya Tagaq is never afraid to stand up for what she cares about. Tanya Tagaq is brave enough to be political, both in her music (HINT: her song Fracking is NOT about the fake swear word from Battlestar Galactica) and outside of music, as we know when she took a public stand against PETA in support of the indigenous right to hunt seal, even when she received death threats and nasty public attacks on her family.  To stand so boldly  in public about things that are important takes bravery. I also think it’s what being an artist is all about: carrying your social message, even if it might hurt.

4. I also hope that as the first Inuit musician from Nunavut to win the Polaris Music Prize, she inspires a generation of young people in Nunavut to create music.  Music is a wonderful way to express yourself, especially when you are young and often have no other outlet.  I’m hoping that when kids in my community, Cambridge Bay (her hometown), see a familiar face like them on TV, expressing herself so beautifully, they will also be inspired to go out and make amazing music themselves.   I want to see a musical revolution in Nunavut.  There are already some fantastic up-and-coming musicians in this territory, like Nelson Tagoona, the Jerry Cans, and the Trade-offs. I want to see this continue.

Congratulations, Tanya. You are an inspiration and a hero.

-Gloria Guns, Cambridge Bay


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