Charlie Panigoniak (ᓵᓕ ᐸᓂᒍᓂᐊᖅ), recipient of the Order of Nunavut, was a groundbreaking Inuk guitarist/singer-songwriter/storyteller who many northerners consider to be “the father of Inuktitut music.” Born in a traditional camp near Chesterfield Inlet on the western shores of Hudson Bay, Charlie became renowned for singing stories of northern life in his Inuktitut language to country and folk melodies.
In his twenties, listening to the radio while recovering from tuberculosis in a Manitoba sanatorium, Charlie was exposed to styles of music different from those of his up bringing and developed his unique sound bridging pre-colonial periods and recent times, cultures and languages.
Communities across the north have connected to Charlie’s music through his storytelling and humour. His personal songs and his Inuktitut covers of main stream classics caught the attention of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), leading to numerous collaborations: recording with CBC Northern Service, performing on the True North (1981) television broadcast, and hosting a daily radio show.
“Ka Matotc” (I miss my girlfriend), his bluesy-folksy single with a dramatic, spoken part became a fan favourite, as is his Christmas cover “Rutami tuktugaqalaunipuq” (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer), while collectively Charlie is remembered for lifting his peoples’ spirits during a trying period of northern transition.
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Speak Up! is curated by David McLeod (member of the Pine Creek First Nation, MB), Indigenous programming consultant.