Kelly Fraser, the Canadian pop artist who gained worldwide attention for her Inuit-language colour of “Diamonds” by Rihanna, has died aged 26.
Fraser was known for her advocacy efforts for her indigenous culture, and wrote or translated songs into the Inuit language of Inukitut with the aim of using pop music to raise awareness of it.
Her friend and producer Thor Simonsen said he was told of Fraser’s death the day after Christmas by her family. The family declined to release details, including the cause of her death.
She grew up in Sanikiluaq, Nunavut, Canada, and was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Her debut album Isuma was released in 2014, and a follow-up, Sedna, was released three years later. Sedna was nominated for indigenous music album of the year at Canada’s Juno music awards.
In a 2017 statement that accompanied the release of Sedna, Fraser said the album’s goal was to heal those suffering from the results of colonisation, including the “damaging effects of residential school and forced relocation”.
Fraser was “extremely passionate about trying to improve conditions for Inuit people” and wanted to help young people understand the history that contributed to their difficulties, Simonsen said.
“There is a great need for Inuit artists to directly speak to those affected from the past.”
At the time of her death, Fraser had been working on a third album, titled Decolonize.