|Kelly & Thor|
Kelly Fraser is an Inuk singer, activist, and motivational speaker from Sanikiluaq. She became known in the music world for her Inuktitut rendition of the song “Diamonds” by Rihanna. She recently released her debut album Sedna. Thor Simonsen is a “Danish-Canadian author, artist, designer, music producer, and media consultant.” He is currently based in Iqaluit, Nunavut. The two recently came together in 2016 to create Nunavut Hitmakerz, “an initiative specifically designed to engage, inspire, and empower Nunavummiut youth by promoting life and career development opportunities through the arts.” Their goal is to visit every Nunavut community, at least once.
Hitmakerz officially began its tour in 2016 by visiting Clyde River, Pond Inlet, and Qikiqtarjuaq. In each community, Kelly & Thor held workshops on song writing, recording, singing, personal storytelling, and understanding the music industry. A concert, talent show, and community feast were also organized. They ended each visit by donating a mobile music studio to a local arts organization in the community.
Funding for the tour was provided by the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Culture & Heritage and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. Due to the success of the first tour, Kelly & Thor worked hard to secure funding for another tour in the fall of 2017. The lucky five communities were: Arctic Bay, Igloolik, Hall Beach, Cambridge Bay, and Iqaluit.
Arctic Bay was the first stop on the 2017 tour. Kelly & Thor were in the community from September 14 to 18. Posters had been put up in the school and around town in advance. The concert, talent show, and workshops would all take place at the community hall. I was only able to attend the final workshop on September 18 due to other commitments. My students filled me in about the excellent evening concert and talent show. My students wanted me to enter the talent show but I politely declined.
The workshop began after lunch. I left a note on my classroom door, telling my students that I would be at the community hall. I walked to the hall because there wasn’t any snow in town, thus preventing me from using my skidoo. It would be another week or two before the snow would arrive. A large circle of chairs was set up in front of a grey table. The table was actually covered with a black table cloth that displayed the Hitmakerz logo. Kelly & Thor welcomed everyone and everyone took a seat.
This last workshop was more about Kelly & Thor talking about what it’s like working in the music industry, how to get started, and what is needed to turn your musical passions into a successful career. The workshop was conducted in Inuktitut & English. Kelly & Thor also sang several of their newest songs of their latest albums. Kelly sang “Sedna”, “Looking For a Seal”, and “Fight For The Rights.” Thor sang “Friends Are Free”, “Calling 867”, and “Traintracks.” The live performances were well received.
At the end of the workshop, the people in attendance were given a survey to complete. The Hitmakerz wanted to know what people liked about the workshops and what could be improved. I thanked Kelly & Thor for donating the mobile music studio to the school. The kit includes: a Mac laptop, microphone, headphones, a mini-synthesizer keyboard, and small mixing board. The equipment would be kept in my classroom. My homework now was to find out who was interested in using the equipment and create a studio recording schedule.