The field of music based on Sámi traditions is expanding and ever more exiting. Several artists and bands have made international impact both in the World Music category and in the category of independent electronica and pop. Taken as a whole the field is becoming increasingly diverse, but still one artist stands out as the unquestionable forerunner, mentor and also international star. This artist is Mari Boine. She embodies the entire spectrum that this music draws on, from the ancient tradition and the timeless mystery of the Joik –the Sámi vocal tradition- to a zealous pursuit of new elements. Her music incorporates many different genres, she makes use of innovative sounds and modern technologies and consistently finds new directions in which to take the music. Mari Boine is both the shaman and unquestionable figurehead of the tribe, and she is the one who blazed the trail for this music onto the international scene by her willingness to experiment, modernise and broaden the traditional expressions. All along her perception has been that the essence of her art and the deep nature of the tradition she represents is something available to people way beyond the northern homeland. It addresses certain subtle existentials shared by indigenous people around the world, and perhaps everyone who is in some sort of contact with a reality that is not purely anthropocentric.
Boine debuted in 1985, but her major breakthrough came four years later with her second album entitled Gula Gula. To the Norwegian audience she brought a renewed sense of the haunting properties of the Sámi musical traditions, which up until then had been deemed rather quaint and inaccessible. With Mari Boine doors were opened to realms of dream, trance and profound meaning; this was music people had in some way craved. Mari’s unique voice, the invocative cyclic melodies presented in modern musical cloaks and the exquisite production constituted an amalgam that struck home instantly.
More than twenty years, and ten albums later, Mari Boine is perhaps the foremost international representative of her culture as such. She has won a wide international following and undertaken various musical and cultural projects with leading artists from around the world. Her current status sees her travelling incessantly, bringing her personal art and the rich and haunting essence of her people’s culture to venues around the world. Her concerts are always highly anticipated and appreciated events; concerts that seem more than just a musical experience but one of journeying in both time and space.
With her latest album, last year’s Idjagiedas, she yet again manifested her position as a unique musical visionary and one who makes accessible elusive yet empowering realms that most listeners will be drawn to in a way few other artists manage.
Yet, as Mari says herself, “the key to experiencing my music is participation, for this is not something you can simply sit back and receive, it is a kind of journey one must partake in”.
Mari Boine, Artist