Y-K’s Facebook Phenom Helps Kick Off Arctic Council Chairmanship

Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook

A Tooksook Bay teenager who became a singing sensation on Facebook performed for ambassadors and Arctic VIPs at the State Department in Washington D.C. last night.

Byron Nicholai was introduced by Secretary of State John Kerry at a reception to mark the beginning of the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The two-year rotating chairmanship gives each arctic country an opportunity to set priorities. The United States has selected ocean safety, security, improving living conditions and climate change. Kerry described the balance:

“We have to implement the framework that we’ve developed to reduce emissions of black carbon and methane in the Arctic, and at the same time we have to foster economic development that will raise living standards and help make renewable energy sources the choice for everybody.”

Alaska leaders have urged the State Department to focus beyond climate change and recognize the needs of Arctic people. That message came through in Kerry’s speech.

“As beautiful as it is, (the Arctic) is not just a picturesque landscape,” Kerry said. “It’s a home. It’s a lifestyle. It has a history, and those folks deserve as much respect for that as anybody else in any other habitat on the earth.”

Nicholai was the only performer at the reception in the ornate Benjamin Franklin room of the State Department. He is 17, and has more than 16,000 followers on his Facebook page “I sing. You dance.”

See video of his performance.

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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska issues in Washington as the network's D.C. correspondent. She was born in Anchorage and is a West High grad. She has degrees from the University of Washington and the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. She previously worked at the Homer News, the Anchorage Daily News and the Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers. She also freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013. She welcomes your news tips at lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz