Meet Pamyua! Get to know the ensemble, their traditions, and music through the videos and interview below. Pamyua will spend a week in various Midwest communities offering educational workshops, engaging with communities, and performing in concerts. Take a look below, or see them in person in a community near you.
Photo by Kerry Tasker.
Pamyua is Alaska’s most famous Inuit band. Founded in 1995 by brothers Phillip and Stephen Blanchett, the group includes Ossie Kairaiuak and frequent guest member Karina Moeller. Their performances honor and share indigenous Inuit cultural traditions through ceremony and songs passed down through generations. Their unique performances blend traditional Inuit drum/dance melodies with contemporary R&B and soul music, often referred to as “tribal funk” or “Inuit soul.”
Get to know Pamyua better by getting a peek into their daily life—from traditional Yup’ik meals to the culture of indigenous games.
Meet the Ensemble
Meet Yup’ik ensemble Pamyua. Since 1995, Pamyua, based in Anchorage and Juneau, Alaska, has shared their Yup’ik identity through their music. Get to know Pamyua’s members, hear their music sung in the Yup’ik language, learn about the cauyaq, and find out more about why they share their music.
Behind the Song
Join Pamyua members Aassanaaq, Sara, and Nick to learn more about their song Bubble Gum. In this video, Aassanaaq (Ossie) translates the Yup’ik lyrics to explain the song’s meaning and how the song celebrates traditional Yup’ik music. Then, Ossie teaches viewers the Bubble Gum choreography so you can follow along at home.
Meals & Masks
Meet Pamyua members Phillip and Stephen’s mother, Arnaq (Marie). In this video, Arnaq and Pamyua member Sara share a traditional Yup’ik meal of fish and seal meat as they discuss how Pamyua’s music tells important Yup’ik stories. Then, learn about the meaning behind traditional Yup’ik masks and how the Yup’ik people have faced oppression for their traditions over time.
Learn from Pamyua member Phillip about the tradition of Indigenous games in Alaska. These games are also played throughout Siberia, northern Canada, and Greenland, and reflect those communities’ cultures and relationships to the animals they’ve lived with for thousands of years.
Hear from Pamyua
Ahead of their upcoming tours, Pamyua answered some questions about his hopes for their upcoming residencies—read more below.
How do you describe your music to someone who has never heard Yup’ik music?
Our music is inspired by our identity. A lot of our Inuit music has many of the same qualities akin to the rhythm and execution of modern soul music, R&/B, funk, soul, and jazz. Our music is alive-it is connected to the spirit and the soul.
What kind of imagery do you visualize most when you perform your music?
Usually we visualize gatherings back home where dancing and singing is done in a ceremonial way. This involves the whole community. Multigenerational diverse mix of the community celebrating together. It’s a powerful image.
What do you hope World Fest communities learn from you?
We are rooted in the songs of our heritage. We hope that through our performances of Yup’ik ceremony, dances and music, that we create a positive awareness and deeper understanding of the human experience. We want to create a better understanding of the relationship humans have to the environment and to our animals and how beautiful it is to prioritize that relationship through our social interactions. We place a big priority on honoring this special relationship through our lifestyle and want to communicate that through our music. Ceremonies are a big part of our Inuit culture—along with dancing, feasting and lots of social events.
“We hope people find a deeper appreciation of each other and learn to honor something outside of themselves, by honoring and respecting the mystery of the human experience and each other. We want our audiences to have a sense of how indigenous people honor their ancestors, their heritage, their traditions and to express how that relationship inspires our intentions and is mirrored in our lifestyle. We hope it encourages people to appreciate each other” said co-founder Phillip Blanchett.
What do you hope to learn from the World Fest communities?
How we are all influenced by cultures globally… We hope to be inspired by the different cultures each community has to offer and share their energy and influence in our music with audiences everywhere.
What are you most excited for on this tour?
We’re excited to learn about the Indigenous people on the land that we’re visiting. We are also excited to meet the diversity in each community.
See Pamyua live!
October 30 – November 5, 2022: Portsmouth, Ohio
Presented by Vern Riffe Center for the Arts
November 6 – 12, 2022: Sullivan, Indiana
Presented by City of Sullivan
November 13 – 19, 2022: Albion, Michigan
Presented by Bohm Theatre
February 5 – 11, 2023: Oskaloosa, Iowa
Presented by George Daily Auditorium
February 12 – 18, 2023: Freeport, Illinois
Presented by Freeport Art Museum
February 19 – 25, 2023: Marinette, Wisconsin
Presented by Rusty Wolfe Studio
About World Fest
Since 2003, Arts Midwest World Fest has brought musicians from around the world to communities in the Midwest. Over the course of a week, musicians and communities connect through hands-on workshops, demonstrations, and performances to foster an understanding of and appreciation for global uniqueness and differences.
World Fest community partners for the 2022-2025 cycle include:
|Freeport||Illinois||Freeport Art Museum|
|Sullivan||Indiana||City of Sullivan|
|Oskaloosa||Iowa||George Daily Auditorium|
|Virginia||Minnesota||Lyric Center for the Arts|
|Minot||North Dakota||Minot Area Council of the Arts|
|Portsmouth||Ohio||Vern Riffe Center for the Arts|
|Custer + Hot Springs||South Dakota||Custer Area Arts Council + Chautauqua Artisans Market|
|Marinette||Wisconsin||Rusty Wolfe Studio|
For more information on World Fest, including Pamyua’s tour, as well as supplementary educational materials and activity guides, visit www.artsmidwest.org/worldfest.