Remembering Karrie Obed: Nain musician dead at 57

Beloved Nain musician Karrie Obed has died of cancer at the age of 57.

Teacher, tenor performed in Nain's Brass Band

Tenor Karrie Obed looks out the window of a Moravian church on the north coast of Labrador. (courtesy Tom Gordon )

Karrie Obed was a beloved member of the Nain music community. A mentor, tenor and teacher, he was an integral part of the Nain Brass Band.

Over the weekend, Obed died of cancer at the age of 57.

There's something just incredibly moving about hearing him sing.- Tom Gordon

"The loss here is the loss of a great friend to the community, a great friend to many people, but also a loss of part of that knowledge and tradition," Tom Gordon, professor emeritus with Memorial University's school of music, told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.

The town of Nain is mourning a well-known elder and respected musician. Karrie Obed, who was a singer in Nain's brass band, passed away over the weekend. Music producer and collaborator Tom Gordon provides his thoughts on Obed's legacy. 11:06

Gordon was the producer of Obed's album Pillorikput Inuit: Inuktitut Arias for All Seasonsa collection of classical music for voice and strings sung in Inuktitut. The album was nominated for a 2016 East Coast Music Award in the best aboriginal recording category.

Karrie Obed died of cancer at age 57. (Memorial University )

In 2015, Obed and other members of the Nain Brass Band travelled to Germany for a Moravian festival. The church's music was brought to the Labrador coast by Moravian missionsaries. 

"It was the first time musicians from Labrador had the opportunity to go back to Germany to share their version of Moravian music, and it's no exaggeration to say that they were the hit of this festival," Gordon said.

During the visit, Obed was invited to sing at a church service of about a thousand people. Gordon said Obed was a sensation, and his powerful voice got him invited to sing again and again.

Karrie Obed was a member of Nain's Brass Band. (Facebook)

"It was powerful in the sense that it was a big sound, but also it went immediately to your heart. There's something just incredibly moving about hearing him sing. He could also sing very quietly. He sang with a commitment and an intensity that very few singers can equal," Gordon said.

"His voice was completely natural. I worked at university music schools all my life. I'm surrounded by singers who spend 20, 30 years training their voices to do spectacular things, but Karrie's just came right from inside him, right from his heart. There was nothing artificial about it. It was just a completely powerful, deeply moving voice."

With files from Labrador Morning