Juno nominated and Inspire Award-winning Inuk singer-songwriter Kelly Fraser died by suicide on Christmas Eve 2019 at the age of 26. Fraser was a leader and role model for many Inuit, not only for her musical success but for her advocacy that led to her speaking at the United Nations in 2019. She worked alongside music producer Thor Simonsen to bring songwriting and music production workshops to small communities around Nunavut. This work resulted in a collective album called Ajungi (pronounced AH-YUNG-EE). A portion of the album’s sales will be donated to the Kamatsiaqtut Nunavut Helpline (867-979-3333).
“Like many young Inuit, Kelly carried a very heavy burden. I think her PTSD was a direct result of Residential Schools and the subsequent struggles of her people,” shares Simonsen. “And the struggle continues to this day. There’s still a dire need for healing in the north, as well as improved quality of life and mental health services. Kelly knew that music was a powerful way to express emotions, break down barriers, and change people’s minds. She was a passionate rights activist and advocate for Inuit and her songs will never be forgotten.”
Fraser has two songs on the Ajungi album (“Next One” and “The Other Side”), sung in both Inuktitut and English. Most of the album’s 12 songs include issues of mental health, bullying, and other struggles Inuit face. One of these songs is “Adventure Waits” by Aocelyn (pronounced OS–LIN). The song, along with a new music video, were released on January 23, 2020, and offer hope and support “for all those people that have been left behind and ditched.”
“Aocelyn was actually discovered by Kelly, who sent me her video on Facebook and recommended we put her on the Ajungi album,” says Simonsen. “Aocelyn is quirky, and she bought great new energy to the album.”
Watch the video below.
The Ajungi album is currently charting in the Top 5 at campus radio stations across Canada, and the momentum continues to build. Hitmakerz is working on a follow-up Ajungi album, scheduled for release in 2021.
I’m Jenna, and I am the founder and editor of Canadian Beats. I have had a strong love for Canadian music, which started many years ago. I have a passion for promoting these talented Canadian bands and artists, and that’s how Canadian Beats came to be. I am so proud of what it has become over the last few years, with many talented music lovers and writers coming together to spread the word of Canada’s music.