Greenland’s Music History, Part 2

- When music became Greenlandic

After the Second World War, Greenland became a more open country politically. There were many that wanted Greenland to become modern, and one way this could happen was through a strengthened relationship with Denmark.

As many places in Greenland developed into modern communities, there came to be an employment law called the birthplace criterion. It meant that Denmark-born employees in Greenland received better employment conditions and salary than Greenland-born employees.

As more and more Greenlanders became aware of this discrepancy, the desire to be more self-sufficient and to strengthen the Greenlandic language and local culture was spurred. Many Greenlanders wished for a Greenlandification instead of a Danification.

SUME – THE SOUND OF A REVOLUTION

In the years when these Greenlandification thoughts buzzed around in the young generation, among others, the band Sume came out with its debut album, Sumut, which means “To Where?” in Greenlandic. The album was political in nature and was produced by a record label that was known for being socialist and anti-imperial.

Sume sang in Greenlandic, which was totally different. Their songs talked primarily about cultural themes via metaphors about the wish for independence and the cultural revival of the Greenlandic people. The lyrics were representative of the times, in which people felt that Danification was a threat to Greenlandic identity and to people’s right to promote their own local culture.

Sume’s enormous popularity in Greenland meant that they were a key element to Greenlandic being a nuanced and stand-alone language.

Sume forged, first and foremost, a connection between their music and the Greenlandic spirit through song and theme, but there were also other elements that created connections between music and Greenland, in general. One of these elements was, similar to the case of choir singing, lyrics such as ”Aajai ja aai aajaa aa”. In addition to the band’s own influence, they also played a large role in terms of establishing a Greenlandic music industry on the whole, as the two lead singers in Sume each established their own record labels.

Listen to Sume here.

"Their songs talked primarily about cultural themes via metaphors about the wish for independence and the cultural revival of the Greenlandic people."

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