R.I.P. Inuk Singer-Songwriter Kelly Fraser

The Juno-nominated artist was 26

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Dec 27, 2019

Kelly Fraser — a Juno-nominated pop singer-songwriter who performed in both Inuktitut and English — has died. Fraser passed away December 24 at her home in Winnipeg. She was 26.

Fraser's cause of death has not been revealed, with a statement from her family asking to "Please respect the family grieving at this time. Messages of support of love are welcome." 

UPDATE (12/30, 5 p.m. EST): Fraser's family has now issued a statement, revealing she died of suicide. You can read more here.

A GoFundMe campaign has been created on behalf of Fraser's sisters to help support the family.

"Kelly was a bright light, an inspiration to so many, a strong advocate, and fierce voice among the Inuit community and Indigenous community overall," provincial industry association Manitoba Music wrote in tribute. "Her messages of hope through music and her constant stride toward success was an inspiration to so many."

Born in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, Fraser began playing guitar at age 11 ahead of forming band Kelly Fraser and the Easy Four at age 15. At 19, Fraser achieved viral fame after translating and covering Rihanna's song "Diamonds" in Inuktitut. The cover, shared to YouTube in early 2013, has since been viewed over 380,000 times.

Fraser released her debut album Isuma in 2014 and shared sophomore follow-up Sedna in 2017. Sedna received a nomination for Indigenous Music Album of the Year at the 2018 Juno Awards and was also nominated for Best Pop Album at the 2018 Indigenous Music Awards.

She had launched a crowdfunding campaign for a third album, Decolonize, this past November.

Fraser was also named a recipient of a 2019 Indspire Award for using "modern pop music to strengthen Inuit culture and language and to promote the Inuit way of life to young people across Canada."

Fraser's life and work were explored in 2018 CBC documentary Kelly Fraser: Fight for the Rights, which you can revisit in the player below.

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