Etulu aningmiuq2

Aningmiuq, Peter & Susan

Websites:  No
Origin: Frobisher Bay, Nunavut

NEWS MAR 8, 2016 – 7:59 PM EST

Death of Nunavut singer-songwriter Etulu Aningmiuq leaves a silence
“He left us with some very nice music”


Etulu Aningmiuq prepares for a performance on Parliament Hill Sept. 10, 2015, in a celebration of life held to mark World Suicide Prevention Day. Aningmiuq died Feb. 15 in Iqaluit. (FILE PHOTO)

Etulu Aningmiuq prepares for a performance on Parliament Hill Sept. 10, 2015, in a celebration of life held to mark World Suicide Prevention Day. Aningmiuq died Feb. 15 in Iqaluit. (FILE PHOTO)

For a dedicated musician like Peter “JoJo” Aningmiuq, life over the last few weeks has been pretty quiet.

Peter is one of three grown children of Nunavut’s well-known country and gospel singer-songwriter Etulu Aningmiuq, who died Feb. 15 after a short illness.

As much as Aningmiuq’s life was focused on music, so was the father-son relationship.

Peter began learning the bass lines to his father’s songs when he was just 14, and performing with his musical parents by 16 years of age.

Fittingly, Peter got his father’s old acoustic guitar after his death, but he said he hasn’t been able to do much with it in the last few grief-filled weeks since he lost his father.

“I can’t come up with anything yet,” Peter said. “It’s been tough.”

Etulu Aningmiuq’s death last month came as a surprise to many, who had seen the gospel singer on stage as recently as last fall, following the release of Aningmiuq’s latest album called Everything of Me.

But Aningmiuq was diagnosed with cancer in November 2015, and his health deteriorated quickly. He died in Iqaluit Feb. 15 at age 69, survived by his wife Elisapie Davidee-Aningmiuq, his three children, four step-children and 12 grandchildren.

Aningmiuq was born and raised in Cape Dorset, but spent a good portion of his life in Pangnirtung, the hometown of his first wife and Peter’s mother, Susa Aningmiuq, also widely known as a singer with her husband.

Aningmiuq, among the very first Inuit wardens hired to work at Auyuittuq national park in 1975, later worked for the local housing association.

But he was best known for his folk songs, the Inuktitut-language ballads he wrote and performed with Susa, their magnetic force pulling Nunavummiut to the dancefloor every time they played a show.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, Aningmiuq’s twangy guitar and smooth vocals earned him a reputation as a crowd favourite across the territory.

“I grew up with my parents playing music all the time,” Peter said. “There was no way around it.”

Peter would listen to his father’s CDs and play the bass lines along with the songs, until he was skilled enough to accompany his parents on stage.

He remembers the first time they performed as a family, at Pangnirtung’s community centre, when Peter was just 16.

Peter said music saved the relationship he had with his father — “I wasn’t the best teenager in the world,” he laughs.

He describes his father as someone who was always patient, and kind.

“He had all kinds of friends he would stop and chit chat with,” he said. “He was open to everyone.”

But the family faced a major blow in 2001, when Susa died of cancer.

Both father and son put their guitars down for a long time, shying away from shows and festivals.

“It was just tough to go at it again without mom,” Peter said.

Peter said it was almost a decade later that he recalls hearing his father say, out of the blue, that he missed playing music and was ready to get back to it.

Aningmiuq remarried, to Elisapie Davidee-Aningmiuq, and relocated to Iqaluit where he and Davidee ran a community-based outfitting program.

His musical following continued to grow as he became a popular fixture at Iqaluit’s Alianait arts festival, noted festival organizer Heather Daley — especially among elders.

Peter’s favourite song of his father’s, called “If I were a Snowflake,” is one he still listens to on vinyl.

“It’s really simple, but really beautiful, about having no cares in the world,” he said. “You just exist, and don’t toil.”

Gideonie Joamie, another Iqaluit musician, names his favourite Aningmiuq song — “Aiguuq” — a song Joamie said always drew couples to the dance floor.

“Did you know that I like you?” goes Aiguuq’s chorus, followed by the response: “All you had to do was let me know.”

“He had such a great voice; it was so deep and soothing,” Joamie said. “You could just close your eyes and enjoy his singing.”

As a musician himself, Joamie said he had the pleasure of playing with Aningmiuq during a jam session at the 2015 Alianait festival, an experience he called “a little intimidating.”

“He left us with some very nice music,” Joamie said. “His music will live on.”



Etulu aningmiuq2

Aningmiuq, Peter & Susan


No Video