Volume 93, Issue 78
Thursday, February 17, 2000
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Aglukark sings the songs of her people
©Photo by Kevin Levy
NOW AVAILABLE IN AUTUMN BREEZE AND MISTY MOUNTAIN. Susan Aglukark brings her brand of modern folk to Centennial Hall on Feb. 18.
By Jeff Warren
Susan Aglukark has performed before Queen Elizabeth, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien and former South African president Nelson Mandela. She has also compiled an impressive list of achievements and awards and her 1995 release, This Child, went triple platinum.
Now, as if things couldn't get any better for the 32 year-old Inuk singer, her latest single "One Turn Deserves Another" (from her new album Unsung Heroes), was aired on last Monday's episode of Dawson's Creek. This can mean only one thing Aglukark has reached the pinnacle of stardom. Right?
"I don't think I have," she laughs. "I'm not sure that there is a pinnacle for me in my situation and I hope there isn't a pinnacle. I just want to continue to write, continue to record and continue to tour for as long as I can afford to."
Always humble about her role as a leading voice in Canadian music, Aglukark, who emerged from the small Northwest Territory community of Arviat, values keeping success in perspective. "I didn't come out to become a famous person," she admits. "I see things a little different in that I appreciate where I am today and all the opportunities I've been given. Keeping things in perspective is what is keeping me grounded and that is very important to me."
Anyone who has heard Aglukark knows that the history of Inuit life is also important to her. This has led to a more personal approach to her songwriting, especially on Unsung Heroes, in which Aglukark sings about such things as tuberculosis, government policy regarding Inuit peoples and the forming of Nunavut, a territorial land regained by its native residents in 1999.
"I grew up very involved in people's lives and my life has been an open book to a lot of people in the community," she says. "I couldn't consider myself to be an honest writer if I couldn't write from what I knew."
Aglukark also thinks of the songwriting process as an opportunity to reach people about certain subjects and letting them in on what she knows. "As a native woman who speaks on behalf of different personal social issues, there's definitely a place for that in Canada and in the history of aboriginal people."
This is an aspect of her career that she takes seriously and does not consider it a market from which to profit. "I don't believe in exploiting my own people, history, culture and experiences," she insists. "I only write, speak and perform on behalf of those I believe have asked to be spoken for, including myself. I'm on stage singing only about what I believe to be my personal opinion, my experience and my vision of things to come or things past."
Although Aglukark admits her music may not be for everyone, she considers herself to be in a fortunate position one which has opened many eyes and many hearts. "I think people respect me for the honesty," she says.
"They understand that I speak only from my experience and opinion and that isn't necessarily mine as an aboriginal, but mine as a human being."
Copyright © The Gazette 2000