Young Alaskan Yup'ik singer gains online following

Byron Nicholai, a Yup'ik from Toksook Bay, a tiny community just off Alaska's mainland in the Bering Sea, has more than 22,000 followers on the Facebook page "I Sing. You Dance."

Byron Nicholai's Facebook page I Sing You Dance has more than 22,000 likes

In this Feb. 12, 2016 photo, Byron Nicholai, a performer from the Western Alaska village of Toksook Bay sings and plays his drum in Juneau, Alaska. Nicholai, an Internet sensation, runs a popular Facebook page called "I Sing. You Dance." where the artist posts videos and songs. (Rashah McChesney/The Associated Press)

He could be considered the Justin Bieber of Alaska.

Teen internet sensation Byron Nicholai is Yup'ik from Toksook Bay, a tiny community on Nelson Island just off Alaska's mainland in the Bering Sea. It's about 850 kilometres west of Anchorage.

The 17-year-old high school senior performs songs that blend traditional Yup'ik and English. He has more than 22,000 followers on the Facebook page "I Sing. You Dance," where he posts videos of himself singing and drumming.

Last weekend, Nicholai performed at the University of Alaska Southeast campus in Juneau as part of a program that prepares indigenous teachers for Alaska's schools.

He told the audience his drumming allows him to share the culture of his village, which has about 600 residents.

Among the songs he performed was one poking fun at dating in rural, sparsely populated Alaska villages. He called it the "Cousin Song."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.