Dr Yunupingu – the voice of Yolngu language passes away

By Rekha Bhattacharjee

In Darwin 5pm Tuesday the 25th of July, 2017, the multi award winning, internationally renowned artist  Dr Yunupingu living in Arnhem Land passed away at the age of 46.

When he sang – one could feel every kind of emotion. At concerts his fans would quietly weep as he sang and applaud when he came to the last note, a roaring cheer would erupt. His songs were simple and their emotional impact was complex, his voice fragile, soared on captivating melodies  as he told stories about his land and identity and spirit in Yolngu language.
It was much like a spiritual experience – a musical magic. He proved inspiring to other artists. His albums would reach top of the charts in Australia both in Yolngu and English.
The 46-year-old singer and song writer made an indelible contribution to Australian Culture introducing his indigenous culture to the world and top of the charts.
Blind from birth and emerging from the remote community of Elcho island off the coast of Arnhem land he went on to sell over half a million copies of his albums across the world.
International super stars like Sir Elton John and Sting would sing praises and sing beside the gifted performer. His last album was finished in May this year.
In 2011 he performed for the Queen in Canberra and later took part in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations with greats like Cliff Richards and Steve Wonder.
He sang  for the US President Barack Obama in Darwin. He had performed alongside Bob Dylan and also had released a Gospel Album.
Dr Yunupingu is survived by his daughter Jasmine.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull lauded Dr Yunupingu as a ‘remarkable Australian sharing Yolngu language with the world through music’.

The Labor leader praised Dr Yunupingu’s exquisite, ethereal voice which was praised worldwide. ‘He was blind from birth but what he was able to do is help the world see  Australia’s oldest culture,’ Mr Shorten told ABC radio on Wednesday.

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