It was perhaps total serendipity that I walked into a cafe earlier this week and came across a poster for an upcoming concert by amazing artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu.
Gurrumul is by far my favorite Aboriginal musician and one of Australia‘s most talented singers. According to the Sydney Morning Herald,“listen to Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu and you will instantly surrender to the greatest voice this continent has ever recorded.” He has “a voice which is so beautiful and so emotion-laden that it invests every song with a passion and pathos which are quite overwhelming.” The Times (UK) calls him “the quiet wizard of Oz.” His voice truly is both heavenly and organic — just listen to his song ‘Djarimirri’ below (the lyrics are on his site).
Gurrumul or ‘Gudjuk’ as he is also known, was born on Elcho Island, off the coast of Arnhem Land, Northern Australia. He is from the Gumatj clan of the Yolngu and his mother from the Galpu nation. He was born blind and learned to play the guitar upside down (he is left-handed and plays a right-hand strung guitar). He sings in Yolngu and speaks only a few words of English.
Geoffrey sings in a mixture of local language and English about his spiritual connection with the land, his love of country, and the importance of his ancestors. He is an inspirational example of triumph over adversity, and of extraordinary talent. –—National Australia Day Council
In 2008, he won two ARIA’s (Australian music awards) for Best World Music Album and Best Independent Release for his self-titled album. He was also crowned ‘Australian of the Year’ (Territorian of the Year) in his home state, the Northern Territory. He was definitely a huge sensation in 2008 and this year he is pleasing fans on his national tour.
He performs in Melbourne on May 25th. His album Gurrumul is available at major book/music stores online.