Ottawa-Based Throat Singer Qattuu Releases Debut Solo Album

World-class throat singer and musician, Qattuu, has released her debut solo album, Midnight Sun. The album was released on February 10, 2023.

Qattuu, whose name is pronounced “KAT-suu”, is a singer, throat singer, songwriter, performing artist, and experimental Indigenous expressionist. She currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario and has roots in Pangnirtung, Nunavut.

“After hearing my album, what I would love for people to leave with are feelings and thoughts that were never there before,” said Qattuu. “This is heart, soul, and mind provoking music.”

Midnight Sun was produced by Grammy-, Juno-, and Polaris Prize-winning music producer Chris Birkett, whose previous work includes Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sinéad O’Connor, and Sting. Birkett also co-wrote a number of songs on the album. Midnight Sun was largely recorded at his studio in Toronto, Ontario.

The album’s creative process was additionally guided by Juno-nominated Inuk artist, Looee Arreak, whose 1998-released song “Don’t Give Up” was covered by Qattuu on Midnight Sun. Arreak, along with fellow Inuk artist Joey Nowyuk, provided some Inuktitut lyrics on the album.

Midnight Sun was released on the Nunavut-based record label, Hitmakerz. Its creation was made possible with support from Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council.

“Everything about this album is my heart and an incredible amount of work was put into it from many people,” said Qattuu. “My sauniapikuluuk is in there, my panik, I wrote a song for my dad, I covered Looee’s song…it’s a community album!”

Qattuu’s title choice draws inspiration from a natural Arctic phenomenon. “Midnight sun” is when the sun continues shining throughout the night in the summer months.

“My producer and I went through trying different names from the song list, and this one fit the most. It’s very poetic and interesting,” said Qattuu.

Midnight Sun’s sound varies, creating a captivating contrast between Qattuu’s sweet singing voice and rhythmically driving throat singing. She fuses contemporary musical elements with Inuit tradition.

The album has eight tracks in total: Midnight Sun, Ataataga, Sauniapikuluuk, Panikuluuk, Kitturiaq, The Ones Forgotten, Don’t Give Up, and The Day I Get Married.

Qattuu has long been part of the Nunavut and Ottawa music scenes. Her passion began at the age of 6, after her mother showed her a cassette tape of an Inuk singer performing throat singing.

Largely self-taught, Qattuu honed her craft over many years. As a child, she was motivated to succeed, and remembers crying from the physical pain in her throat as she learned the technique. Despite this, she never regretted a single moment, as she was determined to learn the ancient art of katajjaq.

Qattuu is a featured artist on many songs by fellow Nunavut artists, such as Joey Nowyuk and Angela Amarualik. Qattuu was also asked to join the Juno-nominated group,  Silla and Rise, from 2020-2022. She co-wrote their album Silarjuaq in 2021. Now Qattuu is making her own path.

“I’ve always been collaborating with other artists and so I was like ‘why limit myself?’” said Qattuu. “This [album] is one of the first pieces as ‘Qattuu’ going forward, so it’s very important to me.”

As a soloist, Qattuu has performed internationally many times, and represented Inuit culture on stages around the world, including in France, Belgium, and the Philippines.

For many years, Qattuu has also delivered cultural workshops and helped others learn about Inuit throat singing. She is considered by many to be an experienced throat singer and leading performer.

Midnight Sun is available now on all streaming platforms.