Saara Hermansson is a Southern Sámi joik artist with roots in mountains of Vilhelmina, in the northern part of Sweden. Over the years, she has worked hard to take back her language and culture. In 2023 she won the Sámi Grand Prix, the Sámi song contest, in the joik category with the joik "goeksege" which means Siberian Jay.
The joik is a unique form of cultural expression for the Sámi people, suppressed in the 19th and 20th century, but so strongly rooted in the culture that it was maintained. Joiking is a traditional form of singing a cappella, often paying tribute to a person, a place or an animal. It can have short lyrics or no lyrics at all. Sara Hermansson, however, follows the contemporary influence with a more epic type of lyrics.
This is what she says about the joik: “Stopping joiking is like stopping breathing, through the joik you give life to the places you have visited, people you have met, life experiences or to the animals that are important to you. The task of the lyrics in the joik is to strengthen the feeling and history you want to convey. In this way, it becomes a type of poetry where the words work together with your voice, the rhythm, the tune and sometimes imitative sounds from nature.”
Photo (c) Hannele Bång