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Canadian singer Riit combines the ancient with the modern. Performing in Inuktitut, a language of the indigenous Inuit people, she blends traditional throat singing with melodic electro-pop for a compelling, fresh sound, as heard on her 2019 debut album Ataataga. Riit was born Rita Claire Mike-Murphy in 1996 in the hamlet of Panniqtuuq (aka Pangnirtung) in Nunavut, Canada's northernmost province, to an Irish father and an Inuk mother. She grew up in a musical environment, attending summer camps where she studied throat singing and guitar, and learned accordion while in college. Later she moved to Nunavut's capital Iqaluit, where she became part of a vibrant scene of young Inuk musicians writing and performing in their native language. She began to write her own songs, with socially conscious lyrics inspired in part by a traumatic relationship she had endured in her teens. Her 2017 eponymous debut EP was released on Aakuluk Music, a label set up by local folk band the Jerry Cans. It combined acoustic folk-pop melodies with electronic beats and throat singing for a unique sound that brought her immediate attention. She signed to Six Shooter Records, home of Tanya Tagaq (perhaps the most famous Inuk throat singer) and got the chance to perform in Paris, and in London for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. In 2018 she became the host of the Inuktitut-language pre-school children's TV show Anaana's Tent. Her 2019 debut album Ataataga ("Father"), produced in Toronto by Graham Walsh of Holy Fuck, went in a pure electro-pop direction; its combination of warm and icy textures and field recordings with Riit's sweet voice and otherworldly folk singing was obliquely reminiscent of Björk.
© John D. Buchanan /TiVo
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