NL·First Listen

Unique and authentic: Deantha Edmunds lets go of the rules for her latest album

It would be difficult to put opera singer Deantha Edmunds's latest album into a specific category. The Corner Brook-raised soprano describes it as "contemporary-classical-Indigenous-ish."

3rd solo album Connections features Inuit throat singing and classical orchestration

An Inuk woman is photographed from above, looking down. She is wearing a garment with several collars, including fur.
Deantha Edmunds is a soprano who grew up in Corner Brook, has roots in Labrador and now lives in St. John's. She's also a member of the Canadian Opera Company’s Circle of Artists. (Jennie Williams/Submitted by Deantha Edmunds)

It would be difficult to put the latest album from opera singer Deantha Edmunds into a specific category.

The soprano, who grew up in Corner Brook, N.L., and describes herself as "urban Inuk," says she let go of any rules while making her third album, Connections.

"I didn't try to make it sound indigenous or make a classical album," she told CBC Radio's Weekend AM. 

"The way I describe it would be contemporary-classical-Indigenous-ish."

For the nine-track album, Edmunds is accompanied by the Atlantic String Quartet.

She incorporated opera, spoken word and traditional Inuit throat singing by Jennie Williams and Ashley Dicker. 

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A black-and-white photo of three Inuk women smiling and facing the cameara.
From left, Ashley Dicker, Edmunds and Jennie Williams sang together for Edmunds's new album. Dicker and Williams performed traditional Inuit throat singing on several of the tracks on Connections. (Jennie Williams/Submitted by Deantha Edmunds)

"Before orchestras or operas, there was throat singing," said Edmunds. "So I wanted to honour that by having those beautiful, ancient sounds be the first thing you hear."  

Some of the lyrics on the album are also in Inuktitut. 

When Edmunds wrote the lyrics for Map of Your Heart, she struggled at first to come up with a melody. After a while, she realized "there's nobody standing over me saying, 'You need to make it something you can sing.'"

So she read the words over music composed by local musician Lesley Heys.

"I absolutely love what she dreamed up," said Edmunds.

The cover of a CD shows Inuk singer Deantha Edmunds wearing a red cape with a lowered cowl, as well as feathered earrings.
Edmunds's third solo album, Connections, incorporates opera, spoken word and throat singing. The music is played by the Atlantic String Quartet. (Jennie Williams/Submitted by Deantha Edmunds)

The song Legacy was written when Edmunds was "feeling really heavy [and] quite helpless" while reading about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people. 

Edmunds said she hoped writing the song would help uplift their voices and honour those who were lost. 

And for the listener, "I hope that it will also spark in them an urge to go out and do something better, to bring about more peace, to connect with people in the right way so that we can move forward in a good way together."

Edmunds said the album's title — Connections — is about her own journey.

"I had just really been thinking about who and what led me to where I am … the people that we meet, the experiences that we have, the family we were raised in, the land on which we grew, how connected all of that is and how it propels us forward in life and into knowing more about ourselves."

Over the past year, Edmunds has been busy connecting with audiences. She performed at the opening ceremony of the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany in October, and more recently travelled to Iqaluit for a conference and performance.

She has a busy season ahead with events in Portugal, Quebec and Nova Scotia, as well as a couple of shows in Newfoundland at Corner Brook's Rotary Arts Centre.

LISTEN | Deantha Edmunds walks Paula Gale through the elements of her album Connections: 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Paula Gale is the host of The Broadcast on CBC Radio One, based in St. John's. She's been a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador for more than 20 years. Her email is

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