Nearly four years after the release of her stunning third solo album The Ballad of the Runaway Girl, Inuk singer-songwriter Elisapie has returned with “Uummati Attanarsimat (Heart of Glass)” an Inuktitut rendition of Blondie’s 1979 hit. Translated from English to Inuktitut by Elisapie, and produced by her long-time collaborator Joe Grass, “Uummati Attanarsimat (Heart of Glass)” was inspired by a childhood memory of hers:
“My adoptive mother was from the small village of Ivujivik. It was a 30 minute plane ride from my village. We would often go there to visit her family. Once we arrived in Ivujivik, my parents would go gambling at some random cousin’s house. I would later have mixed feelings towards their gambling addiction. But not back then.
Back then, it meant the children were free to do whatever they pleased. The older kids were the ones who ran the show and they knew how to throw a party. When I was around 5 or 6 years old, I remember one particular night when they put Heart of Glass on. They all started dancing like crazy. I watched their joy with such admiration. I couldn’t believe I got to stay up so late. I felt so loved by my maniacal babysitters. They laughed at me and swung me around. They treated me like the most beautiful doll. When this song comes on, I am back in that wonderful small dance hall of sorts with my big cousins.
And even though it was a tiny venue, in a tiny village, isolated from the rest of the world, in my mind, it still was the wildest crowded dance floor, in the coolest, most dynamic discotheque in the world.”
The track is accompanied with a video directed by Philippe Léonard using archival footage shot on Super 8 film in the Far North of Quebec. Showcasing breathtaking landscapes as well as various elements of the Inuit winter lifestyle through a collection of everyday scenes, the footage was obtained from the Avataq Cultural Institute and the Mary & Bill Cowley Collection.
Elisapie’s unconditional attachment to her territory and her language, Inuktitut, remains at the core of her creative journey. Born and raised in Salluit, a small village in Nunavik which is only accessible by plane, Elisapie has become an emblematic Canadian Inuk singer-songwriter. Since winning her first Juno Award in 2005 with her band Taima, Elisapie’s body of work has been praised many times. Her 2018 album The Ballad of the Runaway Girl was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, earned her numerous Félix Awards, and received a nomination at the Junos. Since then, the she has performed with the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal at the invitation of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, at the SummerStage Festival in New York City’s Central Park and in the NPR office for her own Tiny Desk Session, as well as in several venues and festivals locally and internationally. Always surrounded by the best musicians from the Montreal indie and folk scenes, Elisapie makes her culture resonate with finesse by mixing modernity and tradition.
Photo Courtesy: Leeor Wild