Tanya Tagaq

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

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

Life and work

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] and was shortlisted for the 2019 Amazon.ca First Novel Award.[23]

Awards and recognition


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)[25]

See also


  1. Nelles, Drew (January 15, 2015). "Why Tanya Tagaq sings". The Walrus. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  2. "Tanya Tagaq Gillis". CCCA Canadian Art Database / Base de données sur l'art canadien CACC. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  3. Khanna, Vish." Tanya Tagaq Takes it Back", Exclaim!, September 2008.
  4. "Tanya Tagaq Takes Flight | Herizons Magazine". www.herizons.ca. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  5. "Performers from 2005". Archived from the original on May 2, 2009. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  6. Aboriginal Recording of the Year Nominee
  7. Parker, C. (2005). Shaman Voices. The Wire Issues 251-256. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  8. "Directory Cover Art". Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  9. "Inuktut Tusaalanga". Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  10. "Download the Arctic Air Theme Song". CBC.ca. Archived from the original on May 17, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  11. "Sneak peak: Tanya Tagaq's new album". April 30, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  12. "Arcade Fire, Drake, Shad make Polaris Music Prize short list". CTV News. July 15, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  13. "Tanya Tagaq Wins 2014 Polaris Music Prize". Exclaim!. September 22, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  14. "2015 Junos: Bahamas, Arkells, Rush big winners at 'Junos Eve' gala". CBC Music. March 14, 2015.
  15. "Kronos' Fifty for the Future Composers". KronosQuartet.org. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  16. Hughes, Josiah (August 17, 2016). "Tanya Tagaq Covers Nirvana, Collaborates with Shad on 'Retribution' LP". Exclaim!. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  17. Rayner, Ben (November 25, 2016). "Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq finds her own key". Toronto Star. p. E5. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  18. Starr, Katharine (December 30, 2016). "Order of Canada's newest appointees include Paralympian, Supreme Court judge and astrophysicist". CBC News. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  19. Slingerland, Calum (February 21, 2017). "Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tanya Tagaq Share New Collaboration". Exclaim!. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  20. Martineau, Jarrett (February 22, 2017). "Queens of Indigenous Music Buffy Ste-Marie and Tanya Tagaq Unite for "You Got To Run (Spirit Of The Wind)"". RPM.fm. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  21. van Koeverden, Jane (May 3, 2018). "Polaris Prize-winning musician Tanya Tagaq is publishing her first book". CBC Books. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  22. van Koeverden, Jane (September 17, 2018). "Esi Edugyan, Patrick deWitt, Tanya Tagaq among 12 authors longlisted for 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize". CBC Books. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  23. Dundas, Deborah (April 26, 2019). "Tanya Tagaq, Ian Williams among finalists for $60,000 Amazon Canada First Novel Award". Toronto Star. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  24. "Full list of Juno winners". The Toronto Star. April 2, 2017. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  25. "Going Home Star". www.musiccentre.ca. Canadian Music Centre / Centre de Musique Canadienne. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
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