Joey Nowyuk: Inuktitut lyrics of hardships and hope.

Joey Nowyuk: Inuktitut lyrics of hardships and hope.

Joey Nowyuk didn’t grow up in a musical family. But the award-winning singer and songwriter from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, did grow up with music. And many of the Inuktitut-language songs that comprised the soundtrack of his youth are the focus of his latest record, a covers project titled Inuugama.

“The songs are really well-known up here in the north, in Nunavut mostly,” he says. Before recording his own version of the tracks, Nowyuk reached out to the original songwriters, asking permission of each Inuit artist who had inspired him on his own musical journey.

Blundstone Playlist Artist Joey Nowyuk

Nowyuk worked with Dale Penner of Hitmakerz to record Inuugama (in English, “I am Inuk”) in Ottawa, as part of the record label’s 2001 immersive, collaborative workshop.

“There was a Hitmakerz compound with about 7-10 Hitmakerz artists. They rented a house and we stayed there for a week,” Nowyuk remembers. “We were all in the same house, working in different rooms, with a bunch of stuff happening: songwriting sessions with other artists, photo shoots, some people recorded albums or recorded music videos.”

“It was a lot of fun, and we did it again in 2022 but on a smaller scale,” he says of the October Iqaluit concert NUPOP, built to recognize and amplify Inuit artists, many of whom were now promoting the albums recorded during the prior year’s compound.

Nowyuk is still working to promote his acclaimed covers album, while creating new material for his upcoming project, which will be all originals, primarily in his native Inuktitut.

The three-time winner of the Qilaut songwriting contest for his lyrics of hardships and hope, Nowyuk began composing as a teenager, when he really picked up a guitar for the first time. “Even today, I’m still getting a lot more comfortable with writing music,” says Nowyuk. “I’m using different ways to write music, rather than what I used to do before.”

Joey keeps fans updated on his upcoming tour dates and upcoming releases at @joeynowyuk.