Legacy’s Music Legacy: Strengthening His Voice Far From Home
“It's easier for me to write than it is for me to talk,” Kobe Aknavigak explains. In the music world, he’s also known as Legacy, and he was born in Yellowknife. Growing up in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, he really loved music and listened to it constantly. As a young child, his older cousin, a recording artist, babysat him. He invited him to sit and write music with him and he’s been writing music ever since. He even joined the same group as his cousin and some more of his family members called Northern Lights.
In high school, Aknavigak struggled with Math and he really had to push himself to get the 70% he needed to graduate. He put a lot of pressure on himself to graduate on time and so did his family. It wasn’t easy, but he overcame that barrier and was able to succeed. After graduating in 2019, Aknavigak applied to Nunavut Sivuniksavut, a program that supports Inuit youth in living independently in Ottawa while learning about their history, contemporary issues, dance and culture.
“While I was there, not only did I grow as a person, I also grew as a student, but I also grew as an artist.... My music just exploded. I got so much better while I was down there. I was writing almost every day,” he recalls. Listening to and analyzing new songs, he learned informally through appreciating the work of others. He would observe how an artist would attack a beat, the rhyme scheme, pattern and metaphors he would use and how it was all tied together. It’s an approach he still takes, but he doesn’t have as much time to do so these days.
His advice for youth considering leaving their own community is to get ready, something he wishes he did for himself given he didn’t anticipate being accepted to the program. “Be prepared for anything to happen. You're gonna be experiencing such a huge learning curve, because where I'm from, it's super quiet here. There's not much going on. When you get to Ottawa, you see a lot of things that you weren't ready for,” Aknavigak reflects.
No longer did he see familiar faces every day and it took some time for him to get used to all the novelty, create a new routine and find his groove. Some of those new faces became friends, almost family, which was helpful because he really missed not seeing his family every day. He comforted himself with music and basketball and was able to get through the loneliness of that formative time away.
If he could tell his younger self anything it would be to keep going and not give up. “Eventually, you're going to be a huge artist and impact a lot of people's lives. Whenever you feel like giving up, that's when you gotta go 110% at it even more, because it's during those times you have to force the best to come out of you so that you can be the best you can be whenever you need to be,” he would say.
To manage his mental health during the pandemic, Aknavigak wrote a lot of music to get his feelings out. The other things that kept him busy were listening to music and playing sports whenever and wherever he could. He tried to stay busy as much as possible.
When he needs inspiration, Aknavigak looks around his environment and sees the things that need to change in his community. He is motivated by his music role models and the music they release. Listening to their songs, he gets fired up because he’s competitive and wants to release something even better himself.
One of the things he’s always telling himself and his friends is, “Don’t think, Just do.” He likes to encourage action and not get stuck in the thinking about things phase. Thinking about how he didn’t expect to get into Nunavut Sivuniksavut and did, he encourages, ”You never know what's gonna happen. I wasn't thinking when I applied; I just did it. It was probably one of the best decisions that I've ever made in my life because I was exposed to a lot of new things… A lot more opportunities come out of those things. Opportunities are such an amazing thing in life. Not too many people get the opportunities that we do.”
It might be easier for Kobe Aknavigak to write than it is for him to talk, but his message is spreading in his song. He travelled far from home, grew stronger as an artist and learned what kind of magic can happen when you stop just thinking about it and start doing what you want to do. Inspiring audiences all over, the artist known as Legacy is creating a legacy of music, sharing his perspective and making a name for himself in the music world.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.