ELEGY MAN by Rich Fleming

In an age where the music industry is polluted with the glitz and glamour of artificial pop songs, the rise of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu has provided us with a truly revitalising breath of fresh air. His music is the beauty of everything that is both Yolngu  and Australian. To say he is fast becoming our next iconic troubadour is an understatement.
Born in Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island) off the coast of Arnhem Land, Gurrumul was born blind. He grew up like every other kid on Elcho Island never letting his disability hold him back, whether it was riding bikes, playing hide and seek, playing marbles, or developing a love for music.

At the age of five Gurrumul received a gift that would change his life forever – it was a miniature keyboard from his parents. This keyboard unleashed his ear for music. By the time he was a teenager Gurrumul had mastered not only the keyboard, but also the drums, didgeridoo and the guitar.

It is his guitar skills that proclaim his true musical mastery. Gurrumul, a left-hander, taught himself how to play a right-handed strung guitar by flipping it upside down playing it back-to-front – a talent that amazes even the best Australian guitarists like John Butler and Xavier Rudd.

His rare talents have always been known and rejoiced by his family and country up in Elcho. It was his cousin, Mandawuy Yunupingupingu, who recruited an extremely reserved 20-year-old Gurrumul to play keyboards, guitar and percussion in his band Yothu Yindi.

After eight years of touring, the extremely reserved Gurrumul yearned the private life and returned to Elcho Island to live. Once back on the island Gurrumul helped start up the reggae-style ‘Salt Water Band’. Like his role within Yothu Yindi, Gurrumul took a quiet, back seat by playing guitar and composing the songs.

It wasn’t until 2007, 12 years after leaving Yothu Yindi, that the hidden beauty of Gurrumul’s voice was fully exposed onto the Australian music scene. His self-titled debut album, which was sung in a range of his local languages (Yolngu, Galpu, Gumatj, Wangurri, Djambarrpuyngu) and produced on a shoestring budget, took Australia by storm and sold over 100,000 copies.

Whilst the critics ran out of superlatives to describe his gracefully unique voice, the reviews for his album were no surprise to his friends, family and former band-members. They had always known that behind this extremely reserved musician was the voice of an angel able to bless everyone who came into contact with it.

We are again blessed by Gurrumul’s astonishing voice and musical mastery as he has just released another astonishing breath of fresh air into the world. His second album Rralaka, which debuted at No.3 on the ARIA charts earlier this year, is yet another breath-taking Australian album that demonstrates why his music is the beauty of everything that is Australian.

Gurrumul and the Rralaka are predicted to feature strongly at this years National Indigenous Music Awards (NIMA).

Gopuru, the first song on the album describes the rhythms of a totemic fish as it swims through the sea. It is an extremely powerful melodic hymn and it is Gurrumul’s first solo song that showcases his graceful skills on the piano.

Whilst Gopuru has been sung in his beautiful native Yolngu language, Gurrumul’s breath-taking voice is once again able to transcend language and cultural boundaries to deliver one of the best songs of 2011.

Gurrumul will be up for a range of National Indigenous Music Awards in under a fortnight time. Don’t miss your chance to experience an amazing night of Indigenous music .

Gurrumul Yunupingu will be touring nationally throughout August – September. For more information visit www.gurrumul.com

The National Indigenous Music Awards will be held on Friday 19th August (7pm start) at the Darwin Botanical Gardens Amphitheatre. Tickets can be booked at here [link: http://www.darwinfestival.org.au/2011-program/national-indigenous-music-awards/]

Generation One are a proud sponsor of the 2011 National Indigenous Music Awards. Over 3000 schools have registered for this years Hands Across Australia Song Competition . Entries close 23rd September 2011. To register your school simply go to the link above and get your music shoes on! 

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4 Responses to ELEGY MAN by Rich Fleming

  1. Narelle Pasco says:

    I have heard this amazing man sing, however I did not know his story, what a wonderful role model. To those who think they have hurdles to high to jump over, think again!

  2. bushtvblog says:

    Thanks Narelle, yes his story is amazing!!!

  3. Kiah says:

    Wow thanks so much for posting Rich! What an amazing story – I too had no idea of his journey!

  4. Tracey says:

    Great story thanks for sharing…. can i put it on my blog with the noted credits to Rich and bushTV?

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