R&B singer Jully Black is set to perform her first-ever show in Iqaluit this Sunday as part of Black History celebrations. (Photo submitted) Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Toronto singer-songwriter Jully Black, known as Canada’s queen of R&B, has brought her music all around the world.

But for the first time in her life, she’s bringing it to Nunavut.

Black is scheduled to perform at the Aqsarniit Hotel and Conference Centre Sunday evening. The Nunavut Black History Society has organized the gig, and tickets are free.

Not a lot of artists from the south fly north to perform concerts. The planning process has been a challenge, she said in an interview.

Black and her management team quickly learned Canadian North flights and groceries are more expensive than what they’re used to.

“It’s really opened my eyes … going to school and we’re learning about the provinces and the territories, but did we really learn about the territories? Not really at all,” she said.

“I put this on my vision board that I want to walk in, figuratively, all of Canada; like I want my feet to touch all of this country that gave my parents an opportunity as immigrants to have me dream as [a] first-generation Canadian.”

Sunday’s concert will look a little different from Black’s usual shows.

She won’t be performing with a full band and back-up dancers. Instead, she will be supported by a piano player, which carries the promise of a more intimate performance for her Iqaluit audience.

“It brings me back to being six years old again: it’s me, it’s my voice, it’s making eye contact, it’s less about the theatrics and the special effects and more about the impact,” she said.

But Black said her visit is also about learning.

Earlier this year, she made international headlines for switching a single word while performing O Canada at the National Basketball Association all-star game in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Instead of singing “Our home and native land,” she sang “Our home on native land.”

At the time, Black said she decided to do it after conversations with Indigenous friends.

Some people on social media criticized her for it, but some Indigenous leaders, including those from the Assembly of First Nations, praised and thanked her for showing solidarity with their communities.

Having never visited the North, Black said she wants to meet with Inuit in Iqaluit who might be able to teach her something new about their traditions.

“I hope to just basically listen, learn and take whatever action I can,” she said.

“I’m going into this totally innocent…. If I learn something about a dance and an outfit, speak to an elder, whatever it is I’ll be grateful.”

Black also said she hopes to nail the proper pronunciation of Iqaluit and try some delicious country food while she’s in the city.

With the weekend to look forward to, Black said she hopes this first visit to Iqaluit is not the only one she makes.

After this trip, she wants to come back with her full band to give Nunavummiut the full “award show” performance experience.

“It’s a first of many and I intend on making some lifelong connections,” she said.

“So I’m looking forward to truly, just connection and community through music and through storytelling.”

By Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 13, 2023 at 06:12

This item reprinted with permission from   Nunatsiaq News   Iqaluit, Nunavut
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