Tripti Joshi (Editor)

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

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Geoffrey Yunupingu

Years active


Skinnyfish Music

Andrew Yunupingu

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu Wiyathul YouTube

Associated acts
Yothu Yindi, Saltwater Band

Music groups
Yothu Yindi (1986 – 1995), Saltwater Band (Since 1999), The Black Arm Band

Similar People
Mandawuy Yunupingu, Archie Roach, Shellie Morris, Dan Sultan, Briggs

22 January 1971(age 46), Elcho Island, Northern Territory, Australia

25 July 2017 (aged 46) Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia


Geoffrey gurrumul yunupingu wiyathul

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (22 January 1971 – 25 July 2017), also referred to since his death as Dr G Yunupingu, was an Indigenous Australian musician. 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. Although his solo career brought him wider acclaim, he was also formerly a member of Yothu Yindi, and later Saltwater Band. He was the most commercially successful Aboriginal Australian musician at the time of his death.


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Geoffrey gurrumul yunupingu djarimirri

Early life

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu Gurrumuls New Album Is All Gospel Hope 1032

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.


Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu YouTube

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.

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu Musician of the Day Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu Globe Tribune

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.

Studio albums

  • Gurrumul (2008) no. 3 AUS
  • Rrakala (2011) no. 3 AUS
  • The Gospel Album (2015) no. 3 AUS
  • Live albums

  • Live in Darwin, Australia (2010)
  • His Life and Music with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (2013) no. 48 AUS (ABC Music)
  • Awards

  • 2016 NAIDOC Award – Artist of the Year
  • References

    Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu Wikipedia