Saturday, 5 July 2008

Songbird soars higher (after a little help from the Rocket Man)

Territory singing sensation Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu is going from strength to strength with his two shows selling out at the Opera House in Sydney.

Yunupingu and his band are playing the studio theatre at the famed venue next Friday 11 and Saturday 12 July, but plenty of Sydneysiders will be disappointed when they learn they are too late for the 400 tickets to each show. Yunupingu may return to the Opera House for another show later in the year. His Opera House shows are part of the Message Sticks indigenous culture festival.

The 37-year-old Yunupingu was named male artist of the year at the 2007 NT Indigenous Music awards, he has performed for the Queen, supported Elton John at his recent Darwin show and will play for the Pope at World Youth Day celebrations on 17 July. A pretty diverse group of audiences, you may quite correctly think! Intensely shy and blind from birth, Gurrumul, a former member of Yothu Yindi, is an old hat at the star-turn, has toured the world as well as playing for the Queen. However, constant touring tired him and he likes living on Elcho Island, his birthplace, 500 km east of Darwin.

Elton John’s interest and support of new and eclectic artists is legendary. Before the Rocket Man performed on May 17 in Darwin, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, also called Gudjuk, performed songs from his Gumatj country, one of the First Nations of North East Arnhemland, and mostly in his Yolngu tongue.

The Elcho Island singer-songwriter has drawn critical and popular acclaim for his first solo album, Gurrumul, released in February this year. It is already a rare phenomenon, breaking into the mainstream; it knocked the John Butler Trio out of the number one spot on iTunes Roots music chart and hit number five on the mainstream iTunes chart in early April. Hailed by the Sydney Morning Herald as “the greatest voice this continent has ever recorded”, Gudjuk sings with the voice of an angel of his love of country, being born blind, the death of his father and creation stories of his Yolngu people … calling Gudjuk’s voice “a gift from the gods”. His music has no political agenda; he just wants to tell stories.

We were able to attend a performance by Gurrumul and his band, for the closing of the North Australia Forum at the end of June, at the new Convention Centre auditorium in Darwin; and were once again mesmerized by his voice. It absolutely filled the auditorium with a hauntingly beautiful sound that you could almost reach out and touch.

To listen to his music click below.

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Helen said...
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