February 10, 2011

Pamyua blends Inuit music, jazz, funk

For Alaska's Pamyua, 'it's all about relationships'

By Ben AndersonPhillip and his brother Stephen Blanchett and their cousin Ossie Kairiuak founded Pamyua (pronounced bum-yo-ah, after the Yupik word for "tail," used as a call for an encore after a performance) more than 15 years ago, and began by performing at Anchorage-area high schools.

"When I first started dancing here in (Anchorage)," Phillip said, "I couldn't have named another peer my age who was doing Yupik dancing. It was nonexistent."

Soon Kairiuak and the Blanchetts were joined by Karina Moeller, a Greenlandic Inuit singer who moved to Alaska to work full-time with the band after a chance performance together at an Alaska festival. After Moeller arrived on the scene, Pamyua was officially born. They released their first album, "Mengluni" or "The Beginning" in 1998, followed by "Verses" in 2001.

In 2003, they released "Caught in the Act," featuring their most contemporary music to date, blending traditional Inuit music with jazz, funk, soul, and reggae influences. That album won them the Record of the Year award at the Native American Music Awards, popularly known as the "Nammys." In 2005, they returned to their more traditional roots, with a collection of rhythm heavy songs on "Drums of the North."
And:Kairiuak recently led a team of Yupik dancers in Alaska Dance Theatre's production of "Qug'yuq," a retelling of the classic "Swan Lake" ballet mixed with Yupik storytelling elements. Stephen Blanchett is spending his winter with other Native American performers for Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations, a program that blends a variety of cultures across the U.S. through performance, and in which he has been active for several years. Pamyua has continued to play shows at a variety of locations across the state, the U.S., and the world.And:Pamyua is keeping busy, tweaking their studio arrangements, and with a remaster and re-release of their debut album, "Mengluni," with a new bonus track added. They've also been getting national exposure by having their music featured on the Discovery Channel's series about Alaska bush pilots, "Flying Wild Alaska." Phillip says he's heard a lot of positive feedback about the program from those living in some of the communities featured on the show.Comment:  For more on Inuit artistry, see Inuit Art in New Jersey and Japan and Mixed Reviews for On the Ice.

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:


Inuit quartet Pamyua's latest album includes something old, something new

Phillip Blanchett's thoughts on the release of his band Pamyua's new double album "Side A/Side B" likely echo those of many fans of the local Inuit quartet: "It's about time."

The group--composed of Blanchett and his brother Stephen, Phillip "Ossie" Kairaiuak and Karina Moeller--put out its last full-length in 2005. Since then, the members have continued to harmonize, perform and travel together while a new album was molded slowly. Now, with a launch party Tuesday and Wednesday, the fruits of years of labor are ready to be shared.