The Polaris Music Prize revealed its longlist for the 2020 Canadian Album of the Year this week, which this year includes Riit’s new album ataataga. An award-winning singer, performer, musician and television host from Panniqtuuq (Pangnirtung), NU, Riit (who also goes by Rita-Claire Mike-Murphy) is known for hosting the children’s TV show Anaana’s Tent and for her combination of katajjaq (throat singing) with electropop influences.
This is the debut album for Riit, who uses Inuktitut lyrics and ambient sounds to create a varied audio experience for listeners. ataataga was released in October 2019 by label Six Shooter Records and garnered a Juno award nomination for 2020 Indigenous Music Album of the Year. “All of the songs [on the album] come from very personal experiences and relationships,” said Riit. “Some are about family, intergenerational trauma, residential schools and sexual abuse. I feel it is important to bring awareness to these issues that affect people in Nunavut and the Arctic.”
Riit joins a select group of Inuit musicians longlisted for the prize. Since Tanya Tagaq’s win in 2014 for Animism, Inuit musicians have only appeared on the list twice: Tagaq herself, shortlisted for Retribution in 2017, and Elisapie, shortlisted for The Ballad of the Runaway Girl in 2019. Elisapie is featured on ataataga, named by Ritt as one of her “greatest musical influences.”
The Polaris Music Prize awards $50,000 to the winning artist, with $3,000 awarded to the nine artists who appeared on the shortlist. 223 albums were considered for the longlist by a 201 member jury, with the 10 album shortlist to be unveiled on July 15th, 2020.
Check out 7 Inuit Music Maestros to Tune In To Now