The world of music lost yet another inspiration.

          The entire music world is mourning the loss of one of world’s greatest musicians, Dr. Gurumull Yunupingu. He was one among the most treasured artists which Australia has produced so far.

          The 46 year old singer and songwriter made an indelible contribution to Australian culture, introducing his indigenous culture to the world and top of the charts with an angelic voice singing in his native Yolngu language.

          Born in Elcho Island of North East Arnhem land, the actually shy, blind boy of the Gumatj clan taught himself to play drums, keyboards, Didgeridoo and Guitar.

         He performed at concert halls around the world, sang for the queen and for Barack Obama, and was hailed by Rolling Stone Magazine as “Australia’s most important voice”.      

          Yunupingu showed his unique appeal at his debut solo Londonconcert in May 2009, when he was still little known in the UK. He sat motionless throughout singing and playing the acoustic guitar, backed by a string quartet and the double bass work of his friend, producer and manager MichaelHohnen. He said nothing apart from a final “Thank You”, but dominated the hall with his gently powerful and heartfelt singing.

          His melodies were straightforward, powerful and accessible, with their blend of folk, soul and gospel influences, along with a dash of reggae and his poetic lyrics dealt with nature or his ancestors.

          He was a fan of Western pop; particularly the songs of Dire Straits, Cliff Richard and Stevic Wonder, but these were matched 

against other, more ancient influences- the beliefs, customs and songs of his people. In later life his often spiritual compositions would blend western musical influences with lyrics that dealtwith clan traditions and beliefs.

          He first learned to make music when his mother and aunts arranged empty tin cans on the beach for him to hit with sticks.
Then he was given a toy piano accordion, capable of playing 12 notes, by his parents and his uncle gave him a guitar, strung for a right handed player.

          Yunupingu was left handed so he flipped it over, a style he never altered throughout his career.

          He never learned braille but was naturally skillful as a musician, playing the guitar, keyboards and drums and he soon became celebrated far beyond Elcho Island.

In 1989, at the age of 18, he was invited to join YothuYindi, which had been co-founded by his uncle. Their song Treaty, which appeared on their bestselling 1991 album Tribal Voice, influenced the then Prime Minister, Bob Hawke.

        He then co-founded the Salt water band with his brother Andrew and Cousin Jonathon before embarking on a solo career which made him a global superstar.

         When he sang, the listeners could feel everything. At every concert, fans would weep quietly as he sang and erupt in roaring cheers and applause as the last note sounded. It was as much a spiritual experience as musical magic.

          His friend and music director Michael Honhen helped capture Dr. G Yunupingu’s vision on record and the stage.

          Prominent Australians have offered tributes. Including Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young tweeted: “A true musical genius. A stark reminder, why we must close the gap of life expect any for indigenous people”.

      Midnight oil front man and  former federal Government       

Peter Garrett also took to twitter to mourn the loss.

         “My dear friend Dr. Yunupingu- a truly great musician-is gone”, he posted.

          ARIA award winning musician Dan Sultan joined the tributes to Dr. Yunupingu.

          “We were all very lucky to be here at the same time as him and to experience him. A very special force. Thank You. RIP” he said in a statement.

          Despite his poor health, Dr. G Yunupingu had been working on numerous projects this year and finally at the age of 46 he said good bye to his fans.

          His fans and the entire music world will definitely miss his voice. But the inspiration he has passed to many people will make him alive in every lovable mind.

        Rather than the normal pop topics of sex, drugs and shopping, his songs were about clouds, wild life and shared ancestral memories. Yes, with his demise, the music world will lose an indigenous musician who never followed the crowd.

 

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