Sara Ajnnak’s biggest break so far came with the critically acclaimed album Gulldalit – Can You Hear Me, which was released in the fall of 2018. The album was nominated for a Swedish Grammy award in the folk music category and won album of the year in the ”World Traditional” category of the Independent Music Awards in New York. This album also won Album of the Year at Folk & Världsmusikgalan.
– I would never have thought that the album would be nominated for a Grammy. When I submitted the album to the Independent Music Awards, I thought that I’m one out of thousands of productions. When I heard that I won the ”best World Traditional” it felt like a big thing, that my music had made an impact.
After the breakthrough of the album, Sara Ajnnak finally hits the road along with her band. The big push is the tour Can You Hear Me, a dreamy concert where Sara’s clear voice mixes with oriental strings, hangdrum and kalimba by the multi-instrumentalist Stein Austrud, who also produced the record. She has captured the soundscape of the arctic village on the album: snow crashing under her shoes, reindeer hooves thundering against the ground. In between all of these sounds, you can almost hear the expanses of the Västerbotten mountains, where she has her roots. This, along with the live music and the joik, creates a soundscape that surges into your soul.
Sara’s enormous commitment to Sami music and indigenous music has brought her over the Atlantic and back again. This fall, she will take part in WOMEX in Tampere, Finland as a speaker where she – together with ShoShona Kish and Māmā Mihirangi – will talk about ”the global sounds of indigenous resistance and resurgence, songs of ceremony and survival”.
Sara Ajnnak also participated in the North Sweden delegation in Brussels, together with Oskar Östergren (producer of the 2016 movie Sami Blood), where they discussed the importance of strong producers of culture in the northern region. Sara also played a concert in Brussels, in connection with this event.
Joik workshop – kids & youth
What is joik, what’s the difference between joik and singing? Can you joik a rabbit? In this workshop, children get to meet Sara Ajnnak, who has reclaimed an almost extinct cultural heritage with her hell-bent stubbornness and patience.
”When I learnt joiking, it was already long gone from my family. I spent hours listening to old recordings, while I was mimicking the sounds of the old voices. I tried to teach myself how to form my mouth and used the voice to bring forth the different sliding tones that I heard in the joik. The process of learning takes more than an hour, but to create an understanding of the art form, the philosophy and technique can be done within an hour.”
A way to remember
Joik is a way to remember, to get a sense of what has been, through dreaming away from the present with the voice as your tool. Joik is a Sami tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation, with information about the land, the animals and the people. Joik is one of Europe’s most ancient forms of singing and much more than just a way to use one’s voice. The melodies contain strong emotions, advanced rhythms, hidden stories and messages, memories from both events, animals and people. When the colonization of Sápmi started in the 17th century, and the church made its entrance in the north, the joik was banned from churches. It was considered a tool for evoking the powers of the devil, and should be exterminated at all costs.”
Workshop for children, age 4-6
Let the children get a glimpse into the ancient joik tradition. During the course of one hour the children will explore the joik as means of expression, together with Sara. How do you really joik a rabbit or a bear? Together, they explore the sounds of the forest, the rhythms and the tonality. While they’re approaching the different animals of Sápmi, they learn the difference between joiking and singing. The children will get an understanding, through playfulness, of how the body and voice is connected and challenge themselves to try something new.
Workshop for youths
Discover your body and the voice as a tool. We approach the joik in a playful way and get to know our voices. For one hour, the group will get a glimpse of the history and background of joik, together we learn new joiks and find the keys for new ones.
Sara Ajnnak quotes:
”Hailing from Sweden, Sami artist Sara Ajnnak brought the crowd to an ethereal musical landscape by way of her traditional joik mixed with oriental strings and electronic treatments.” – Marc Fournier, CBC/Radio Canada
”Sara was a revelation at Folk Alliance International. Her music is enchanting and she’s a wonderfully charming storyteller and performer. I’m so grateful to be introduced to Sara’s culture and artistry and look forward to the next time I see her in concerts.” – Andrea Warner, the author of The Authorized Biography: Buffy Sainte-Marie & associate producer at CBC Music.
”Like the fragrance that accompanies a spring rain, the music of Sara Ajnnak connects you to the natural world in a way that is at once ineffable but so powerful that it cannot be resisted. The heartbeat rhythms combine with tonalities that come straight from the indigenous roots that ground her music. Once you hear it, you only want to hear more.” – Gerald Torres