• A file image of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. (AAP)
He’s an Australian icon whose music touched the lives and souls of countless of people around the world. His passing has left a hole in the life of his friends, family and the music industry.
By
Rangi Hirini

Source:
NITV News
1 Feb 2018 - 2:21 PM  UPDATED 8 Feb 2018 - 4:00 PM

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu was one of the most important and acclaimed voices to ever come out of Australia.

Born blind, Gurrumul Yunupingu first picked up a guitar at the age of six, learning to play it upside down because he was left handed.

Family of Gurrumul Yunupingu allows use of name and image to preserve legacy
Late musician Gurrumul Yunupingu will be identified by his full name and his image can be shown, says his family in order to preserve his music and memory.

His unique voice spawned a career that saw him sell more than half a million albums, recorded in his native Yolngu tongue, and perform for audiences that included the Queen and former US President Barack Obama.

Later in the year Australian audiences will be able to view a new documentary exploring the two worlds Gurrumul lived.  

The life of his fame and success, and the life he lived with his family back on his country.

“The world wants to know more about him, closing their eyes and open their hearts they will see him – clear," says the voice over in the trailer of the new documentary on his life.

“He’s making it easier for the world to understand (Indigenous culture) and he’s making it new.”

The documentary premiered last year at the Melbourne Film Festival and is set for an international premiere at the 2018 Berlin Film Festival, before it’s shown in Perth and then nationally from April 26.

Following his passing in July 2017, his family was offered a state funeral in Darwin.

Musicians, politicians and Indigenous leaders all sent out their condolences as the family initially had asked for his full name and face to not be used for cultural reasons.

A few months later they decided to want to preserve Yunupingu’s legacy and allowed the media to use his image and full name.

"The family have given permission that following the final funeral ceremony, his name and image may once again be used publicly to ensure that his legacy will continue to inspire both his people and Australians more broadly," his record label Skinnyfish Music said in a statement.

Gurrumul had suffered years of ill health, having contracted Hepatitis B as a child, leaving him with liver and kidney disease.

At the time of Gurrumul's passing, Mark Grose from Skinnyfish Music said his death showed there was still far too great of a gap for Indigenous Australians in the area of health and life expectancy.

"It says to me, it does say that we have to re-double our efforts, there is a continuing gap that needs to be closed, and we all need to be part of closing that gap and recognising that the Indigenous people we are friends with, that we socialise with, that we work with, their life expectancy is not as good as mine as a non-Indigenous person and I think all of us need to take some responsibility to help work towards better outcomes for Aboriginal people."

Related Links
Family of Gurrumul Yunupingu allows use of name and image to preserve legacy
Late musician Gurrumul Yunupingu will be identified by his full name and his image can be shown, says his family in order to preserve his music and memory.
Memorial service celebrates 'remarkable' life of Dr G Yunupingu
The life of Dr G Yunupingu, one of Australia's most remarkable musicians, was celebrated today at a state memorial service in Darwin.
‘Amazing Grace’: A special tribute from the NITV family to your family
This week marked two significant days of recognition – R U OK? Day and World Suicide Prevention Day – where people around the country were encouraged to offer support to friends, relatives and colleagues in need. NITV News pays tribute to families across Australia, who have lost loved ones, with an extraordinary track, Amazing Grace, sung by two of this country's most deadly songmen, Gurrumul and Paul Kelly.
Related Links
Family of Gurrumul Yunupingu allows use of name and image to preserve legacy
Late musician Gurrumul Yunupingu will be identified by his full name and his image can be shown, says his family in order to preserve his music and memory.
Memorial service celebrates 'remarkable' life of Dr G Yunupingu
The life of Dr G Yunupingu, one of Australia's most remarkable musicians, was celebrated today at a state memorial service in Darwin.
‘Amazing Grace’: A special tribute from the NITV family to your family
This week marked two significant days of recognition – R U OK? Day and World Suicide Prevention Day – where people around the country were encouraged to offer support to friends, relatives and colleagues in need. NITV News pays tribute to families across Australia, who have lost loved ones, with an extraordinary track, Amazing Grace, sung by two of this country's most deadly songmen, Gurrumul and Paul Kelly.