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Tanya Tagaq On World Cafe

Tanya Tagaq's most recent album is <em>Retribution</em>.
Ivan Otis
/
Courtesy of the artist
Tanya Tagaq's most recent album is Retribution.

You hear a lot of different types of music on World Cafe, but you may not have ever heard anything like Tanya Tagaq, who has collaborated with Björk and won Canada's prestigious Polaris Music Prize.

All the vocal sounds you hear in this session are made by Tagaq, based on her interpretation of Inuit throat singing. It's an ancient tradition that was originally performed as a friendly competition between two women, and that Tagaq has brought into punk and electronica. When she performs, her voice — so calm, warm and gentle in conversation — becomes visceral, powerful, fearsome and beautiful.

Tagaq herself is Inuk — she grew up in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, a remote community of about 1,500 people in northern Canada. She spent time in a residential school, and in our interview, she explains what that has to do with a tremendously dark part of contemporary Canadian history. Tagaq is a proud and passionate advocate for First Nations rights, which shows up in both her music and our conversation. Hear the full session in the player above.

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Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.