Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Who knew that Monday morning would usher in yet another arctic anomaly? I certainly had no clue! As you can probably imagine, unexpected changes in daily routine often present more than a few challenges within a classroom. I'm not big on surprises when it comes to keeping my kids on track. However, this departure from the typically lockstep morning schedule proved to be a rabbit worth chasing.

With a name like Pamyua (pronounced BUM-yo-ah) you'd think this would have something to do with Inupiat culture or language, right? Well, almost. Pamyua is actually the name of a Nordic indigenous band originally formed by two brothers, Stephen and Phillip Blanchett, who are of Yup'ik Eskimo and African American decent. Sound like an interesting combination? Just wait. It gets better! The female vocalist of the group is a Greenlandic Inuit and Pamyua's musical style is largely inspired by gospel, R & B, funk, and jazz! Whew! While that may sound a bit schizophrenic, it was actually lots of fun.

In 2003, Pamyua was chosen to represent Native American music at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards. Following that performance, their third album, Caught in the Act, won Record of the Year at the Native American Music Awards! And here they were...performing in our little the middle of the arctic tundra!

Lead vocalists are (from left) Ossie Kairaiuak, Stephen Blanchett, Karina Moeller, and Phillip Blanchett.

Pamyua Singers

Phillip Blanchett dances a traditional Yup'ik Eskimo dance...very expressive and comical! The drums being played by Ossie and Stephen are identical, as far as I can tell, to drums used by Inupiat Eskimo culture. The only difference is that Yup'ik Eskimos beat the top of the drum while Inupiats hit the skin from underneath.

Yup'ik Eskimo Dance-Phillip Blanchett

At first, I think the kids were basically stunned. Their faces tell the story better than I ever could.


But it didn't take long before the music found its way into their souls...or at least their arms...and they were fearlessly swaying and clapping and laughing. It was truly a beautiful thing.

Raise Your Hands2

If your curiosity is stronger than your aversion to download time...take a quick peek at Pamyua...during their limited (Monday morning) engagement at the Arctic Cotton Club. :)


Steve said...

Wow, Kimberlee, that sounds like a wonderful surprise! It must have been so much fun watching and hearing that kind of music unfold. Live music done well is one of the best things.

Kimberlee said...

Hi, Steve. YES! It turned out to be one of the best "interruptions" I've ever experienced! :) The video clip in my posting highlights some of the energy and variety of the performance, but it really doesn't do justice to the sound quality of their music and vocals. They do concerts all over the world...I'd love to hear them again someday.

Steve said...

I'll keep a watch out for them in case they're ever near me. Throat singing is such an odd and beautiful phenomenon.

Kimberlee said...

Yeah, the throat singing was really a surprise and something I wouldn't have even recognized as such if it weren't for that site you told me about a while back. They didn't announce that they were going to do it...they just sort of eased into it. You're right, it is beautiful...and interesting...and something I'm really curious about. I think we were extremely fortunate to have had them here. I'm going to try to write a letter to the grant-funded organization that made it possible and tell them that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Hey Kim! I was watching the video with Sophie in the room and towards the end of the video when they were making all those strange sounds she jumped up and said "Monkeys". It sounds like everyone had a blast. Have an awesome Thanksgiving. Love ya. Kippi

Kimberlee said...

Hey, Kip! Monkeys, huh? I'll bet that's not exactly what they were going for! :)

It really was a fun thing and, not having any sort of music program here, it was good for our students to be exposed to the variety of music that Pamyua performs. I bought some of their CDs and my students have literally taken them over, listening to them during their free time after lunch. That makes me happy!

We had our school Thanksgiving lunch today, tomorrow is the community feast, and then on Friday we'll meet for a dinner as a faculty/staff. It's going to be busy. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family! Thanks for staying in touch!

Bryan said...

Well, I'm glad I back-tracked through your archives! I would have loved that show! If the grant people ever want to fund trips by acoustic guitarists, let me know! :)

Kimberlee said...

Hey, Bryan! I'm glad you back-tracked too. That was a fun concert and I'll bet you would have fit right in with those guys. If I ever hear about an opportunity for an acoustic guitarist...I will definitely let you know. :)