18 February 2013

SOFIA JANNOCK - a Sami Yoiker / Song Writer

Áššogáttis (By The Embers)

Sofia Jannok was born September 1982 in Gällivare in northern Sweden. Sofia began singing at just eleven years old, and turned 30 this past year. This young woman inspires me with her music and her views on society. Recently I heard her express this sentiment:

"I dream of a world where earth is as beautiful where nature can be.

"I dream of a world where Sami people and all our sisters and brothers all around the world are free and independent."

I first learned of Sofia Jannok at the Bjug A Harstad Memorial Lecture (February 6, 2013) given by Professor Harald Gaski, professor of Sami literature at the University of Tromsø, Norway. He played a brief segment of her 2008 CD titled Áššogáttis (By The Embers). I was not prepared for how deeply the music moved me. When I returned home, I immediately went in search of her CD's. 
White / Čeaskat released in 2007 by DATCD, Kautokeino
By The Embers / Áššogáttis released in 2008 by Caprice Records, Stockholm
I wanted to 'buy local' so I tried the two Scandinavian stores in my neighborhood: Scandinavian Specialties and the gift shop at Nordic Heritage museum. To my dismay, neither of them carried the CD. So next I went to iTunes and found that I could purchase it if I lived in Sweden, but it's not available for sale via iTunes in the United States. I'm determined to locate my own copy of this CD, but in the mean time I will have to make do with the few video clips that I've found online. 
[Yoik is a traditional Sami, form of song. Yoik is one of the longest living music traditions in Europe, and is considered the folk music of the Sami people. To my ear, it sounds similar to the traditional chanting of some Native American cultures. Each yoik is intended to reflect or depict a person or place.]

Have you seen the movie Avatar, the science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron? Sofia saw this movie, and she said "It hit me like an arrow towards my chest." She goes on to say, 'It is a painful documentary about present life - my life. This is how it is for my people, if not for all indigenous people all over the world."  The video above is her story about 'our rights to earth and freedom.'

Here is another amazing video, which I found on vimeo.com:
October 29, 2012

About Kont, Umeå    "I don't know too much about Umea, but it is very far from the mountain world, and sometime I have to see a bigger space, and then I go out here and you have the same kind of space, and you get the feeling that you are small on the earth: it is nice to remember, sometimes."

About the song 'Dangerous'
"At the end of the video, Sofia shares this about the song: "Dangerous was written in a frustration that we do not take care of our earth, you just squeeze more and more out of the earth, and it feels especially relevant now with all the mining exploration around the Sampi Norr--and Vasterbotten, so it is more relevant than ever."

Like most people, Ms. Jannock doesn't want to be 'labeled' in the traditional sense, as being all about snow, traditional costume, reindeer and so on.  She recently was profiled in the blog  Scandinavian Moments - News & Projects from Moment Agency Seeing the Exotic Other (February 5, 2013), where the blogger wrote about a photo session with the Sami artist:
"We decided to do something really plain. Studio and black and white. She chose a white leather jacket and some of her impressive silver jewelry. During the shoot we tried some pictures without the jacket and at one point I took some shots in profile.  Suddenly she said she felt like her ancestors, those who were forced to pose nude in profile in front of the cameras of the race biologists. Oh god that’s terrible, I said, let's do something else!"
On the blog and in the magazine is a beautiful profile in side view. I love this photo, its elegant and tasteful.

You can 'follow' Sofia on Facebook, but be forewarned that most of the information there is written in Swedish or Sami. You can also learn more on her web site: www.SofiaJannock.com.

I hope to have her CD's yoiking in my home soon.

No comments: