Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu
He was the most commercially successful Aboriginal Australian musician at the time of his death. The first of four sons born to Ganyinurra (Daisy) and Nyambi (Terry) Yunupingu, he was born in Galiwin'ku, Elcho Island in 1971, 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. 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. 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. His first solo album, Gurrumul, debuted at No. 69 on the ARIA Charts and No. 1 on the independent chart. Gurrumul peaked at No.
3 on the ARIA Charts. The album was certified triple platinum. 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. In 2008 Yunupingu was nominated for four ARIA Awards, winning the awards for Best World Music Album and Best Independent Release. 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)". 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. In 2009 a portrait of Gurrumul by Guy Maestri won Australia's major art prize, the Archibald Prize. He was again awarded the Australian Independent Record (AIR) Award for Best Independent Blues and Roots Album in 2011 for his album Rrakala.
In the same year his single Bayini became the first track by an indigenous musician to reach the top five of the Australian charts. 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. In 2012 Gurrumul had conferred upon him an Honorary Doctorate of Music by the University of Sydney. In 2013, Gurrumul joined Delta Goodrem for a special performance of "Bayini" on The Voice Australia. 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." 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. In 2015, Gurrumul toured the US. 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. Yunupingu died at Royal Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory, at about 5 p.m. on 25 July 2017, aged 46. He had suffered from liver and kidney diseases for many years. Upon his death he was described as an important figure in fostering racial harmony, and as a voice of indigenous Australians.
He received tributes from Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, fellow musician Peter Garrett, and the Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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