R.I.P. Inuk Singer-Songwriter Kelly Fraser
The Juno-nominated artist 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.
Message from Kelly Fraser's family: We ask that at this time please DO NOT post or ask what happened to Kelly-online or to her family.— tj lightfoot (@Tepkunset09) December 27, 2019
Please respect the family grieving at this time. Messages of support of love are welcome
Thank you for your understanding
Kelly was an antidote to those lazy stories us southerners weave about Inuit communities. She was dynamic, she was an artist and a leader whose voice could spark hope for fellow youth. Like too many Inuit, her life was cut short. It is unacceptable.https://t.co/A9uZw32yoR— Christopher Curtis (checkmark) (@titocurtis) December 27, 2019
We are devastated that the North has lost a beautiful and powerful voice. Loss like this is felt across the entire community, beyond just music. Rest In Power, Kelly Fraser.— Folk on the Rocks (@FolkontheRocks) December 27, 2019
Working with Kelly Fraser in music has been an amazing experience and i feel so blessed to have worked with such a powerful inuk artist. She's been and still is a huge inspiration for me and my work as a music producer. Rest in peace, Kellykulu. I miss you and I love you ❤❤❤— Aqqalu (@uyarakq) December 27, 2019
Here's a pic of Kelly Fraser that makes me smile. pic.twitter.com/BfuONuglDF— Benjamin Rayner (@IhateBenRayner) December 26, 2019
Kelly Fraser has been a bright light, an inspiration to so many, a strong advocate, and fierce voice among the Inuit community and Indigenous community overall. Our thoughts are with her family, community, and friends.— Manitoba Music (@manitobamusic) December 27, 2019
Please help if you can https://t.co/lmWEJ5jAFk— tanya tagaq (@tagaq) December 26, 2019
Travel well, Kelly Fraser. Thank you for your music & your art & sharing your language so beautifully. https://t.co/mHLHQ7OHFe— Andrea Warner (@_AndreaWarner) December 27, 2019
Our love and prayers go out to Kelly Fraser's family and friends, fellow Inuit, and the many people that were touched by her life and music.— The JUNO Awards (@TheJUNOAwards) December 27, 2019
Rest in peace, Kelly Fraser. We will miss you. pic.twitter.com/L1WeI1HBqe