How throat boxing (throat singing + beatboxing!) helped Nelson Tagoona find a powerful voice

Tagoona opens up about how the intense art, combining beatboxing and throat singing, has been a source of light for him.

'I find hip hop is healing in a lot of ways'

Nelson Tagoona. (CBC Arts)

Throat boxing is hard — it combines the percussive elements of beatboxing with the muscular manipulation required by traditional Inuit throat singing. And Nunavut's Nelson Tagoona has become a master of the artform. When he was performing in Toronto this spring at the Music Gallery through Native Women in the Arts, CBC Arts correspondent April Aliermo caught up with Tagoona to learn about throat boxing, the positivity of hip hop and how much it's meant to him to have the approval of his community's elders.

Watch the video:

Throat boxer Nelson Tagoona

5 years ago
Duration 5:15
CBC Arts correspondent April Aliermo visits Nunavut artist Nelson Tagoona who tries to teach her some throat boxing ABCs and opens up about how throatboxing helped him thrive. Filmmaker: April Aliermo.

In this video made by filmmaker April Aliermo, you'll hear Tagoona's story that negotiates loneliness and the loss of friends and family to suicide as he grew up in Baker Lake, Nunavut. And you'll find out just how important hip hop is to him.

As he explains: "Music became my best friend because music could never leave me hanging. It's always there for me."

Nelson Tagoona. (CBC Arts)

Keep up with Nelson Tagoona here. Special thanks to Blueprintforlife for providing us with footage.

Watch CBC Arts: Exhibitionists online or on CBC Television. Tune in Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT).


Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an art history instructor and is always quite terrified of bees.