Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

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Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu in Nov 2012.jpg
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu in November 2012
Background information
Born (1971-01-22)22 January 1971
Elcho Island, Australia
Died 25 July 2017(2017-07-25) (aged 46)
Tiwi, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Genres Folk/World
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Vocals, guitar, drums, keyboards, didgeridoo
Years active 1986–2017
Labels Skinnyfish Music
Associated acts Yothu Yindi
Saltwater Band
Website www.gurrumul.com

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (22 January 1971 – 25 July 2017), also referred to since his death as Dr G Yunupingu, [note 1] [6][7][8] was an Indigenous Australian musician.[9] A multi-instrumentalist, he played drums, keyboards, guitar (a right-hand-strung guitar played left-handed) and didgeridoo, but it was the clarity of his singing voice that attracted rave reviews, he sang stories of his land both in Yolŋu languages such as Gälpu, Gumatj or Djambarrpuynu, and in English.[9][10] Although his solo career brought him wider acclaim, he was also formerly a member of Yothu Yindi, and later Saltwater Band,[9] he was the most commercially successful Aboriginal Australian musician at the time of his death.[9]

Early life[edit]

The first of four sons born to Ganyinurra (Daisy) and Nyambi (Terry) Yunupingu, he was born in Galiwin'ku, Elcho Island in 1971,[11] situated off the coast of Arnhem Land in northern Australia, about 530 kilometres east of Darwin. He was from the Gumatj clan of the Yolngu and his mother was from the Galpu nation,[12] he was born blind, never learned Braille and did not have a guide dog or use a white cane, and was said to be acutely shy.[13] When he was four years old, he learned how to play a toy piano and an accordion by teaching himself. A year later he began to play a guitar; despite being a left-hander, he played a right-handed guitar, holding it "upside down", which he would continue to do throughout his career.[9]

Career[edit]

Gurrumul playing at the West Coast Blues & Roots Festival (2011)

His first solo album, Gurrumul, debuted at No. 69 on the ARIA Charts and No. 1 on the independent chart.[14] Gurrumul peaked at No. 3 on the ARIA Charts.[15] The album was certified triple platinum.[9] Yunupingu's friend Michael Hohnen produced the album and was his translator. Critics have heaped praise on the singer, describing his voice as having "transcendental beauty". Elton John, Sting and Björk were among his fans. When asked what he would do with any money he made, he suggested it would go to his mother and aunts, following the Aboriginal tradition of sharing wealth.[13]

In 2008 Yunupingu was nominated for four ARIA Awards,[16] winning the awards for Best World Music Album[17] and Best Independent Release.[18] He also won three Deadlys, winning for Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for Gurrumul and Single of the Year for "Gurrumul History (I Was Born Blind)".[19]

In November 2009, he was named Best New Independent Artist, and his album, Gurrumul, Best Independent Release and Best Independent Blues/Roots Release at the Jägermeister Australian Independent Record (AIR) Awards held at Melbourne's Corner Hotel.[20] In 2009 a portrait of Gurrumul by Guy Maestri won Australia's major art prize, the Archibald Prize.[21]

He was again awarded the Australian Independent Record (AIR) Award for Best Independent Blues and Roots Album in 2011 for his album Rrakala;[9][22] in the same year his single Bayini became the first track by an indigenous musician to reach the top five of the Australian charts.[9]

In 2012 Gurrumul was one of the contributing vocalists on Gary Barlow's commemorative single "Sing" for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, which features artists from across the Commonwealth. He performed "Sing" live at the Diamond Jubilee Concert on Monday 4 June 2012 together with many of the song's contributing artists;[23][9] in 2012 Gurrumul had conferred upon him an Honorary Doctorate of Music by the University of Sydney.[9]

In 2013, Gurrumul joined Delta Goodrem for a special performance of "Bayini" on The Voice Australia,[24] during the performance, he stated:

Yolngu are deep thinking philosophical people, the words in the song refer to many families sitting together on the beach looking to waves and sea, the horizon, contemplating.[25]

In December 2013, Gurrumul released a live album, titled His Life and Music which was recorded in the Sydney Opera House and released through ABC Music. It was nominated for Australian Independent Record Labels Association and ARIA awards.[26]

In 2015, Gurrumul toured the US,[27] he released his third studio album, The Gospel Album on 31 July 2015. It debuted at number 3 on the ARIA Charts; in October 2015, the album won Gurrumul's third ARIA Award for Best World Music Album.[28]

Death[edit]

Yunupingu died at Royal Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory, at about 5 p.m. on 25 July 2017, aged 46.[29] He had suffered from liver and kidney diseases for many years.[9] Upon his death he was described as an important figure in fostering racial harmony, and as a voice of indigenous Australians,[9] he received tributes from Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, fellow musician Peter Garrett, and the Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.[9]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

Awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Avoiding the use of a deceased person's first name is part of grieving practice amongst many Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Use of the title "Dr." is based on the honorary doctorate conferred in 2012 by The University of Sydney[1]. However, most universities[2], apparently including The University of Sydney[3][4], do not endorse the use of "Dr." as a title for holders of honorary doctorates; this is also reflected in the obituary published in the New York Times, which refers to him as Mr. Yunupingu [5].

References[edit]

  1. ^ Honorary awards : Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, The University of Sydney. Last Updated: 17-Feb-2015. (Accessed 2017-08-18.)
  2. ^ McNeilage, Amy (4–5 October 2014). "Ian Thorpe now Dr Thorpedo, man of letters". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 31. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 
  3. ^ Honorary awards - ARMS The University of Sydney. Last Updated: 17-Feb-2015. (Accessed 2017-08-18.) "Mr Reid, who holds an Honorary Doctorate of Business from Charles Sturt University and an Honorary Doctorate from The University of Queensland, is also a Doctor of the Queensland University of Technology."
  4. ^ University Officers - ARMS The University of Sydney. Last Updated: 24-Feb-2015. (Accessed 2017-08-18.) "[...] the Hon Mr Justice David Mayer Selby, after the conferring of [...] the honorary degree of Doctor of the University [...]."
  5. ^ Dr. G. Yunupingu, Australian Aboriginal Singer, Dies at 46. The New York Times, Russell Goldman, 26 July 2017. (Accessed 2017-08-18.) "Mr. Yunupingu was awarded an honorary doctorate of music by the University of Sydney in 2012."
  6. ^ "Dr G Yunupingu obituary". Guardian Australia. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2017. 
  7. ^ "Dr G Yunupingu: Australia's most prominent Indigenous musician dies aged 46". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2017. 
  8. ^ "Singer Dr G Yunupingu dies aged 46". The Australian. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Marshallsea, Trevor (26 July 2017). "Dr G Yunupingu: An exquisite singer who 'spoke to the soul'". BBC. Retrieved 26 July 2017. 
  10. ^ "Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu". dB Magazine. Retrieved 26 July 2017. 
  11. ^ "Australian indigenous singer Dr G Yunupingu dies". BBC. 26 July 2017. 
  12. ^ OzArts Gurrumul
  13. ^ a b McMahon, Barbara (17 July 2008). "Aboriginal singer beats poverty and prejudice to top Australian charts". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 14 April 2014. 
  14. ^ National Indigenous Times – Issue 156 Gurrumul CDs to tap into UK Archived 23 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ The ARIA Report issue 1021
  16. ^ Aria Awards
  17. ^ SBS news Arnhem Land's Gurrumul wins ARIA award Archived 22 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ News.com.au 2008 Aria Award Winners
  19. ^ Northern Territory News[dead link] Gurrumul Deadly at Awards
  20. ^ "Yunupingu Wins AIR Awards Triple". Billboard.biz. 25 November 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2008. 
  21. ^ "Archibald Prize 09". Art Gallery of New South Wales. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2012. 
  22. ^ Australian Independent Record Labels Association Ltd (AIR), 2012
  23. ^ "The Diamond Jubilee Official". 4 June 2012. 
  24. ^ McCabe, Kathy (27 May 2013). "Delta to sing Gurrumul's indigenous anthem Bayini on The Voice tonight". Herald Sun. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  25. ^ Ferreira, Nuno Saque (10 May 2012). "Gurrumul featuring Sarah Blasko – Bayini – UK single release July2nd". #AltSounds. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  26. ^ "gurrumul-his-life-and-music-cd". ABC.net.au. December 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 
  27. ^ "Gurrumul announces USA Tour 2015". www.skinnyfishmusic.com.au. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  28. ^ "Courtney Barnett, Hermitude, Tame Impala Lead 2015 ARIA Award Nominations". Nastassia Baroni. musicfeeds.com.au. 7 October 2015. Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  29. ^ Aikman, Amos. "Singer Dr G. Yunupingu dies aged 46". The Australian. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  30. ^ a b c d e http://australian-charts.com/search.asp?cat=a&search=Gurrumul
  31. ^ "First Indigenous nurse graduate among winners at the 2016 NAIDOC awards". ABC News. 8 July 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2016. 

External links[edit]