The language of the indigenous South Saami is spoken by only 500 people worldwide, but Marja Mortensson, a Saami singer from South Sápmi in Norway, chose it to be her performing language, arguing that she can express her emotions and thoughts much clearer and more effectively in her native tongue. This she does through the ancient art of yoiking – the form of traditional song favored by the Saami people. This art form is a way of singing with or without words. Yoiks are meant to reflect or evoke a person, an animal or a place. The unique soundscape she and her fellow musicians created stems from a deep understanding and adherence to the traditional yoiks and their melodies. Imitating standing stones, carefully rooted menhirs, who guide the listener from the gravity and melancholy of a planet finally speaking up against our treatment of her, to the playful yoik melodies associated with woodpeckers and ptarmigans. And yet, what Mortensson brings on stage is the songwriting and storytelling of a woman of the 21st century who has traveled the world but is deeply connected with her heritage.
Marja Mortensson is one of the world’s foremost performers of traditional South and Ume Saami yoiks. Despite her young age, she has already received widespread recognition for her music. Her trio won the Norwegian Grammy Award for their album Mojhtestasse – Cultural Heirlooms. And the latest album Lååje – Dawn was recently listed among 10 Top of the World albums by Songlines Magazine.
On all of her recent publishings she comes together Daniel Herskedal, an extraordinary composer and musician known for his ability to push the boundaries of his instruments, tuba and bass trumpet, to the limit. With his uncompromising skills, vast range of tone and the gift to transfer emotions via music, Herskedal’s virtuosity knows no boundaries. One of his compositions can be heard on the recent Brad Pitt produced movie; The Last Black Man in San Francisco.