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Inuit throat singers, Silla, perform for their 'cousins' during their first AFN

Oct 24, 2018

Inuit throat singing duo, Silla, performed (Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018) during the 2018 Alaska Federation of Natives convention.

Two-thirds of the Juno Award winning Silla + Rise, Cynthia Pitsiulak and Charlotte Qamaniq are currently based out of Ottawa, Canada.

Inuit throat singing duo Silla, Chartlotte Qamaniq, left, and Cynthia Pitslulak, performs Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention at Dena'ina Center in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KNBA)

“We're always excited for each and every show no matter where it is,” Pitsiulak said. “Performing in Alaska is that we get to share with our …” “Inupiaq cousins and other indigenous people,” Qamaniq said.

The women stand face-to-face, singing a duet that uses breathing and throat noises. They speed up and slow down, change pitches, and get closer and closer to each other.

Often it ends with one of them laughing.

“The very first time I heard it, it absorbed into my soul and my bones and I just knew that I had to learn it and know everything about it,” Pitsiulak said. “I've been practicing for many years, for about 15 years. It's just everything about throat singing that I love.”

The duo has been singing together since 2005.

“I really like having a connection with your throat-singing partner, having that really friendly competition,” Qamaniq said. “I really like the challenge of getting better, always learning how to go faster, how to make different sounds and just learning new skills.” 

“It's our way of connecting not only with our culture but ourselves and as a duo,” Pitsiulak said. “We're sharing this, we're making these amazing sounds together and we feel it when we sing it.” 

It was their first time performing at the AFN convention.

“I think what's special about this is that because Inuit are spanned from Russia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland,” Qamaniq said. “I really love to perform where there are other indigenous people and other Inuit so that's what is really special about AFN, coming here.”

Pitsiulak and Qamaniq were catching a red-eye flight for a weekend performance in Toronto.

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