Pamyua brings Inuit soul to Montana

Alaska-based band delivers “tribal funk” to Helena, Whitefish and Polson

On Stage

Pamyua brings their unique, infectious fusion of Inuit soul music to The Myrna Loy stage in Helena Oct. 26, the O’Shaughnessy Center in Whitefish Oct. 27, and the Polson High School Auditorium Oct. 28.

Prepare to be swept up in their driving rhythms, melodic songs and joy.

The Alaska-based group creates an exciting blend of songs mixing traditional Inuit songs with R&B, soul, and gospel.

The group combines traditional Yup’ik dancing, which is an ancient form of Inuit dance, with their music, says co-founder Philip Blanchett.

He and his brother, Qacung, founded the group in 1995, when they started singing a mix of music from their youth. Their mother is Yup’ik and their father, African American.

“We’re probably going to begin our show with a showcase of traditional dancing, so that the audience can get an idea of the context of the rest of the show, which is a real special, unique fusion of arrangements and musical styles,” says Phillip.

Audiences will get “a traditional and contemporary experience of music from the North,” he says. “We definitely have a soulful, gospel and R&B vibe to it.”

A recent reviewer at the LA Global Fest gave a glowing write-up, saying “the funky dance/drum tribal beat was infectious.”

The most famous Inuit band in Alaska, they’ve “toured around the world — including the far reaches of Siberia — singing and dancing their potent, joy-filled blend of ‘Inuit soul,’” wrote the LA Times.

Qacung says Pamyua (pronounced BUM-you-a) is more than a band –  “it’s a calling.”

“(W)e’re making our music to save lives — to keep our culture alive.”

The six-member ensemble is just finishing a nine-week Arts Midwest World Fest Tour before coming to Montana.

“The community can really experience something that is culturally unique,” Phillip says of their show. “We offer a very interactive show and will be having a lot of fun with the audience. They are part of the entertainment, not just watching.

“They will be learning something unique to the Indigenous ways.

“There’s going to be a lot of laughter. Humor is a big part of our culture – as well as really strong, emotional songs.”

In Helena and the Mission Valley, they’ll offer school outreach programs; they also perform a student matinee at the Alberta Bair in Billings Oct. 24.

Montana performances:

Helena: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at The Myrna Loy; tickets are $25 and available at the box office, by calling 406-443-0287 or online at

Whitefish: 7:30 p.m. Oct.  27 at the O’Shaughnessy Center. Learn more here.

 Polson: 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Polson High Auditorium; tickets to the Mission Valley Live performance are available online or at the door.