Gurrumul | Artist
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu was an Indigenous Australian musician born 1971 in Elcho Island, Northern Territory. A multi-instrumentalist, he played drums, keyboards, guitar and didgeridoo, but it was the clarity of his singing voice that attracted rave reviews. He sang stories of his land in Yolŋu languages, and in English. Gurrumul was born blind and at four years old 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. Although his solo career brought him wider acclaim, he was also formerly a member of Yothu Yindi and later, the Saltwater Band. In his professional dealings, Gurrumul was assisted by Michael Hohnen, a musician, producer, and founder of Skinnyfish Records. Hohnen also accompanied Gurrumul in many of his live performances. In his lifetime Gurrumul released three albums: Gurrumul, Rrakala and The Gospel Album. Soon after his death in July 2017, a fourth album Djarimirri: Child of the Rainbow was released posthumously. Also, during his lifetime, the live album His Life and Music was released in 2013, which captures Gurrumul performing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Critics have heaped praise on the singer, describing his voice as having "transcendental beauty". Elton John, Sting and Björk were among his fans. Yunupingu died in Darwin on 25 July 2017, aged 46, having suffered from liver and kidney diseases for many years. At his funeral he received tributes from the Australian Prime Minister, fellow musician Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil, and the Dean of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Of his recordings Gurrumul (2008), Rrakala (2011), Djarimirri (2018), and His Life and Music (2013) are standout albums. The money Gurrumul made from his music was largely shared with his family, following the Aboriginal tradition of sharing wealth. He did not generally give interviews, instead relying on his representative Michael Hohnen to speak for him, following a Yolŋu custom that dictated that Yunupingu's role was only to sing, while his elders spoke publicly. Major figures such as Elton John, Sting and Bjork were just a few in the music world who were outspoken in their praise for Gurrumul.
Artist Website: gurrumulfoundation.org.au
Featured Albums: Gurrumul
Related Artists: Saltwater Band