Gurrumul remembers the Yothu Yindi Lead Singer
Gurrumul made the following comment this afternoon on the passing of the lead singer of Yothu Yindi:
“I respect him….and I love him…. And I miss him. From Gurrumul”
The book reviews are rolling in
GURRUMUL: HIS LIFE AND MUSIC
By Robert Hillman
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu won't be explained by any book. If the best a biographer can hope for is to make that clear and OK, Robert Hillman does an excellent job in between the stunning photographs and bonus CD of this deeply researched, sometimes surreal story of an extraordinary musician and the ancient culture he has opened to the world.
The problem goes back to the Dreamtime. In spite of decades of well-meaning parallels with creation myths and religious faith, Hillman's conviction is that until any whitefella can trace his story a few thousand generations deep on the same patch of earth, he's just peeking through a keyhole at a concept that defies time as we know it.
After respectful consideration, crucial related concepts of totem identity and clan obligations are effectively retired to adjacent too-hard baskets. The most comical chapter revolves around (and around and around) an interview with Gurrumul's aunties under a pastel sunset at Darwin's Nightcliff markets.
''In Arnhem Land, the crocodile goes way, way back to the creation story. Dhuwa, that is the mother; Yirritja, that is the father,'' Aunt Dorothy explains. ''The crocodile is Yirritja. The crocodile is Gurrumul. So now you understand.''
''Do I?'' Hillman wonders.
He understands more than the average Aussie bloke. His Elcho Island chapters include fascinating threads of European history and anthropological sidebars about language and other mysteries of this most ancient of civilisations.
But by writing himself into these scenes as an awkward ''balanda'' clutching his notebook full of all the wrong questions, he gives us permission to approach his subject with wonder and humour, leaving behind the anxious need for atonement and correctness.
Wonder is, after all, what most listeners bring to Gurrumul's music: songs that invoke a strange and timeless web of relationships to nature and kin, sung in rhythms and dialects that have overwhelmed audiences around the world with something other than literal meaning.
Hillman gives us intimate access to that story. He treads softly in the shadows as muso-manager-translator Michael Hohnen leads his blind prodigy in a state of Zen-like calm from Elcho to a Coburg recording studio; from New York's Carnegie Hall to the Queen's Jubilee Concert in London, where Paul McCartney and Elton John pay their respects. He conveys Gurrumul's playful sense of humour and boyish obsessions (Olivia Newton-John, Cliff Richard), as well as several gripping episodes in which his seemingly irrational priorities flirt with disaster, whether on live French television with some guy called Sting, or in a near-death experience that tests the ground between Gumatj conviction and European rationalism to the limit.
We enjoy the rare privilege of hearing the famously reticent superstar speak, too, albeit only as overheard in shorthand conversation with Hohnen and his business partner Mark Grose - the singer's adopted brother and father, according to Aboriginal custom.
Hillman's only attempt to interview his subject results in another farcical episode, as he waits under a tree outside Gurrumul's house while family members intermittently emerge to report ''Nope. Still asleep.''
By accident or design, the character that emerges is hence defined less by his own personality than through various relationships both within and beyond Hillman's frame. Exactly as in his songs, Gurrumul's ghostly presence in his own story shifts focus to an immeasurably bigger picture.
The Boy's Own adventure is here, of course. In pop's standard terms of fame and fortune, a blind man's journey from banging flour tins on an Arnhem Land beach to $80 room-service steaks at the Waldorf Astoria is amazing. The lavish photo component that spans from Gurrumul's near-naked and scarified great-grandfather circa 1937 to happy snaps with Stevie Wonder and Barack Obama is doubly so.
Accordingly gobsmacked and clearly moved by his subject's powerful spirit and artistry, Hillman can veer towards the purplish end of the prose spectrum. The word ''genius'' is overplayed and scattered references to John Milton, Beethoven and Miles Davis seem at odds with the uniqueness of this very singular artist's vision, style and purpose.
But stars need to be defined as such in the ''carnival of celebrity'' with which the author sheepishly identifies. ''As a matter of fact,'' he confesses as he sweats through another stony silence among Elcho Island locals, ''I feel a certain amount of suspicion about my own motives.''
He needn't. If Gurrumul's life and music comprise an invitation to his country, his culture and their unexplained mysteries, this book is a gracious act of acceptance.
John Butler joins Gurrumul on Barunga Festival 2013 Line-up
Barunga Festival 2013 got even bigger today with the announcement of John Butler joining the legendary Gurrumul Yunupingu, at Australia’s most anticipated and historic Indigenous festival. John will perform on Sunday June 9 at the festival which boasts three days of music, sport, dance and traditional activities, celebrating Indigenous culture in all its forms in the unique Barunga community, 70km south of Katherine.
Butler is one of Australia’s most highly respected truly independent artists. His philanthropic organisation, The Seed Fund, has been instrumental in supporting emerging indigenous talent from across Australia, including the Barunga region. It will be a pleasure to have him on the stage at a festival that he has supported so generously in the past. This will be a very special festival event, and not to be missed for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants from around Australia.
Barunga Festival is held over the long weekend, Friday 7th - Monday 10th June. For the 28th year, the community of Barunga will host this much loved Territory event which brings together the musical, artistic, cultural and sporting talents of the greater Katherine region as well as the Top End and Desert regions. The 2013 Barunga festival program will have all the usual festival treats and more details of the 3-day music, sport, dance and traditional activities program will be released soon.
Tickets are now on sale through Moshtix
Organisations wishing to participate in or sponsor the 2013 festival are invited to contact Skinnyfish Music by May 3
Yolanda Be Cool (Feat. Gurrumul) Flume Remix Goes Viral
Yolanda Be Cool (Feat. Gurrumul) Flume Remix Goes Viral
Gurrumul has gone viral with his Yolanda Be Cool song collaboration ‘A Baru In New York’ remixed by #1 ARIA hitmaker Flume. Gurrumul wrote the lyrics about his totem — A ‘Baru’ is a saltwater crocodile.
Creating an amazing soundscape which brings Gurrumul’s distinctive vocal and ambience to a whole new level, Flume’s ‘Soundtrack Version’ of Yolanda Be Cool/Gurrumul’s ‘A Baru In New York’ was leaked to Soundcloud last Friday, picking up a near 150,000 streams and over 800 shares in less than a week.
“Gurrumul is so impressed with how his song with Yolanda Be Cool was reinterpreted by Flume,” said Gurrumul’s friend and collaborator Michael Hohnen. “Gurrumul and I listened together to the remix, sitting on the floor, in front of a huge stereo system. He proclaimed at the end of it – “that sounds like a crocodile movie”.
“Gurrumul has embraced this song ever since he created it with the Yolanda boys, and even appeared in the beautiful music video. Flume’s managed to create almost electro-orchestral backing, while retaining the sense of history and dignity which is such a quality of Gurrumul’s music.”
This unique collaboration which has brought together three groundbreaking Australian artists, Gurrumul, Yolanda Be Cool and Flume, has already been labelled as an important bridge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous music, mirroring the cultural contribution made by Gurrumul’s former band Yothu Yindi and the remixes of their 1991 song Treaty.
‘A Baru In New York’ by Yolanda Be Cool feat. Gurrumul is available now on iTunes including remixes from Flume and Chocolate Puma.
Click here to listen and buy on iTunes
View A Baru in New York (Yolanda Be Cool feat. Gurrumul) Music Video:
A Baru In New York
‘A Baru In New York’ represents an opportunity for Gurrumul, Yolanda Be Cool and Flume to share Indigenous Australian culture with their worldwide audiences. Gurrumul sings about identity, spirit and connection with the land, its elements and the ancestral beings to which he is related. The song ‘A Baru In New York’ is sung by Gurrumul in Yolngu language and is about his totem - the Saltwater Crocodile called Baru. The song was partly recorded in New York and the title is representative of Gurrumul travelling to share his music and culture with the world.
Yolanda Be Cool
Dance music duo Yolanda Be Cool ranks with the highest selling Australian recording artists of all-time with 16 World Number Ones and 14 Platinum Certifications (including the international hit ‘We No Speak Americano’). They have redefined the dance genre of late, creating a niche with family friendly dance songs that are a departure from the usual dance remixes. Industry standard English lyrics are no certainty with YBC releasing a worldwide hit song in Italian and now a song in Indigenous Australian Yolngu language, written by Gurrumul.
Flume is a very young Sydney beat maker who’s grabbed the attention of XLR8R, Electronic Beats, Triple J, FBi and many more in less than a year. After selling out 2 national Australian tours by the end of 2012, Flume is set to hit the road again having played prestigious Australian festivals: Splendour in the Grass, Parklife and Foreshore as well as a very special event in Sydney called Vivid LIVE at Sydney’s most famous venue - The Sydney Opera House. He’s still busier than ever producing – recently releasing an original with Anna Lunoe called ‘I Met You’, remixes for Hermitude (Elefant Tracks), The Aston Shuffle and Ta-ku as well as putting the finishing touches on his debut album.
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- NEW RELEASE - Gurrumul and The Sydney Symphony Orchestra ‘HIS LIFE AND MUSIC’ Album available December 6
Gurrumul and The Sydney Symphony Orchestra are thrilled to announce the release of ‘His Life And Music’. Recorded Live at the Sydney Opera House in May 2013 as part of the Vivid Festival, ‘His Life And Music’ captures the artistic spirit of one of the nation’s most extraordinary artists, and will be released physically and digitally on December 6.
The live recording features Gurrumul as you have never heard him before, in a world-first collaboration with The Sydney Symphony Orchestra, performing a collection of songs from his award winning albums. Also included on the album are introductions from Gurrumul’s family that provide a rare insight into the people, the country and the stories behind some of his most popular songs.
Blind from birth, Gurrumul is a member of the Gumatj clan of Elcho Island, off the coast of tropical North East Arnhem Land. He quickly became known for singing about identity, spirit and connection with the land, its elements and his ancestors. Gurrumul first came to attention when he released his eponymous self-titled debut album in 2008, to international acclaim. It sold half a million copies worldwide, reaching triple platinum in Australia earning him fans as diverse and well-known as Elton John, will.i.am and Sting.
“Australia’s most important voice” – Rolling Stone
Gurrumul and The Sydney Symphony Orchestra | “His Life And Music” | Available December 6, 2013
Don't miss "Gurrumul. His Life And Music" concert featuring the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, 8th March Perth - TICKETS ON SALE 9.00am MONDAY 25th NOVEMBER from www.ticketmaster.com.au & 136 100
- Gurrumul to perform with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Perth, 8th March 2014
Chugg Entertainment & Mellen Events announced today that multi-ARIA award-winning Indigenous artist, Gurrumul will perform with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Kings Park & Botanic Garden on Saturday, 8 March. His special guests will be Christine Anu and Dewayne Everettsmith.
This extraordinary musical event will present a live account of Gurrumul’s life, voiced through song, film and the storytelling of his people.
Backed by the classical strength of West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO), Gurrumul will perform new works of simplicity and power from his third studio album, alongside re-arranged and reinterpreted music (orchestrated by Erkki Veltheim) from his previous album releases. Gurrumul and his band will be joined by WASO and multi media narration from clan members of the Northeast Arnhem land. WASO will be conducted by Iain Grandage.
Declared “Australia’s most important voice” by Rolling Stone magazine and recently named at the top of the Australian Financial Review’s Cultural Power list, this blind-born musician hailing from an island off the north coast of Arnhem land, has produced soulful, resonant songs for over two decades. From his time with Yothu Yindi to his celebrated solo release, Gurrumul has been an integral part of our nation’s musical landscape, singing gentle songs of wonder that invoke the stories of his people, the Yolngu, with the powerful spirit of his ancestry.
Affecting and inspiring, ‘Gurrumul – His Life and Music’ is an intimate and unprecedented insight into one of Australia’s most treasured artists. It had its world premiere at the Sydney Opera House in May to standing ovations and 5-star reviews.
“His songs resonated powerfully… there was so much beauty in this concert that it was easy to be moved to tears.” – The Daily Telegraph
“...his performance is immediately magnificent, its impact intensified by a sense of the generous energies involved for such an introverted artist” - The Guardian
“An aunty tells us Gurrumul is special because he was born ‘covered with rainbow’ and, as he begins singing, his voice just lightly caressed by violins, her words are proved true” - Sydney Morning Herald
“The union had the effect of a chemical reaction, sending a glorious explosion of sound towards the Opera House rafters” - The Australian
Christine Anu will be Gurrumul’s special performance guest on the evening, as will emerging singer songwriter Dewayne Everettsmith.
Dewayne has been described as “a uniquely gifted singer with hints of the soul of Marvin Gaye and the sunny beauty of Johhny Nash” (Sydney Morning Herald).
Mellen Events is proudly sponsored by Healthway promoting the Make Smoking History message – and are delighted to deliver all our events smoke free.
Don’t miss this extraordinary evening of spellbinding talent.
TICKETS ON SALE
9.00am MONDAY 25th NOVEMBER
From www.ticketmaster.com.au & 136 100
For Media Information:
Rosita Stangl 08-9367 8884 / email@example.com
Photos courtesy of Prudence Upton - Sydney Opera House concert of 'Gurrumul. His Life and Music' featuring the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, May 2013.
- Gurrumul Tops Cultural Power List: Unveils The Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation
Named today at the top of the Australian Financial Review’s Cultural Power list, Gurrumul Yunupingu has officially launched the Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation.
Gurrumul Yunupingu is an internationally recognised singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist who is a powerful role model for young Indigenous people. Adding to a long list of incredible career achievements, he has now fostered the development of a foundation that will continue supporting a legacy of Aboriginal knowledge, achievement and opportunity.
The Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation’s vision is to provide indigenous youth (particularly those in remote communities) with opportunities to participate and achieve success. It will fulfill its goals through supporting activities that target young people, assisting them to discover and build on their strengths, develop greater personal skills, and deliver meaningful and relevant opportunities - helping to find pride and place as future leaders in their communities. Building on the strength of traditional culture, artistic skill and love of sport, Gurrumul’s foundation looks to support programs in these areas over a sustained period of time.
The Foundation was conceived by Gurrumul while overseas in early 2012.
“Gurrumul came to us when we were in the US in early 2012 and wanted to discuss his idea,” said friend, musical collaborator and foundation board member Michael Hohnen. “In the previous twelve months we’d released his second platinum album, met the Queen, toured the world and were soon to perform for and meet Barack Obama. Gurrumul questioned us on why he had these opportunities while so many Yolngu struggled to find a quality path in mainstream life.”
The first pledge of support for the Foundation has come from Delta Goodrem, musicians of the Sydney Symphony and Gurrumul himself who collaborated to perform and record ‘Bayini Live’ on ‘The Voice’ earlier this year. The single ‘Bayini Live’ was the first top five hit ever in an Indigenous language and all proceeds from downloads are donated to the Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation.
The Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation is planning launch activities to be held around Australia in early 2014 but is now open for business and welcoming founding philanthropic supporters.
To donate visit: www.gurrumulfoundation.org.au/donate
For more information, contact Executive Officer Penelope Arrow on firstname.lastname@example.org or 08 8941 9066
Purchase your copy of Bayini Live and support the Foundation on iTunes.
- Gurrumul Releases Maralitja – A Tribute To Yothu Yindi
On the eve of the National Indigenous Music Awards, national treasure Gurrumul Yunupingu is releasing a new single ‘Maralitja – A Tribute To Yothu Yindi” as a tribute to the man he called “wawa” or “brother”, Dr Yunupingu.
The song was a favourite of Dr Yunupingu, originally from Yothu Yindi’s multiplatinum album “Tribal Voice” and will be performed with the original band and Gurrumul this Saturday at the National Indigenous Music Awards. Dr Yunupingu heard Gurrumul’s version last year at the ARIA Hall of Fame inductions, and his family have vetted the release.
“The passing of Dr. Yunupingu was significant to Gurrumul, and there is an enormous level of respect there – of what he stood for, the history he has created, and also what they achieved together” said friend and musical collaborator Michael Hohnen. “He loved that man for many reasons but remembers this song “Maralitja Man” or “Crocodile Man” as a sharing of an identity with which they were both born – the identity of the saltwater crocodile”.
Upon his brother’s passing, Gurrumul released the statement “I respect him....and I love him.... And I miss him”, one of the few times the singer has made a public statement other than via his songs since his journey in music began with his role in Yothu Yindi.
The winner of ten previous NIMAs, Gurrumul is pleased to be performing at Saturday’s event where he is also up for National Artist of the Year. He also holds two nominations for Song of the Year for his collaboration with Yolanda Be Cool and Flume on “A Baru In New York” and his stunning duet with Delta Goodrem “Bayini” which he performed earlier this year on The Voice, topping the iTunes charts and becoming the first Indigenous language release to hit the ARIA top five singles.
Gurrumul is also nominated for Act of the Year at the 2013 Deadly Awards to be held at the Sydney Opera House this September.
MARALITJA – A TRIBUTE TO YOTHU YINDI IS RELEASED THROUGH ITUNES ON AUGUST 9 THROUGH SKINNYFISH MUSIC
GURRUMUL PERFORMS AT THE NATIONAL INDIGENOUS MUSIC AWARDS THIS SATURDAY NIGHT IN DARWIN