Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

Australian singer

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu (22 January 1971 – 25 July 2017), often known simply as Gurrumul, was an indigenous Australian musician. He was best known as a singer. Most of his songs are sung in Galpu, Gumatj or Djambarrpuyngu,[1] which are all languages of the Yolngu people of northeastern Arnhem Land. He plays the guitar, drums, keyboards and yidaki (didgeridoo).

Gurrumul Yunupingu @ Fremantle Park (17 4 2011) (5648206079).jpg
Gurrumul in April 2011
Background information
Native name
Gudjik Gurrumul Yunupingu
Born(1971-01-22)22 January 1971
Galiwin'ku, Northern Territory, Australia
Died25 July 2017(2017-07-25) (aged 46)
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Years active1988–2017
LabelsSkinnyfish Music
Associated actsYothu Yindi
Saltwater Band

Gurrumul was born at Galiwin'ku, on Elcho Island, off the coast of Arnhem Land. He belongs to the Gumatj clan of the Yolngu, and his mother is from the Galpu clan.[2] He was born blind. Although a few of his songs are written and sung in English, he does not speak the language. He is also said to be very shy,[3] and does not normally speak during performances.[4]

Gurrumul was a founding member of the band Yothu Yindi. He played in this band for almost ten years, until 1995. He formed Saltwater Band a few years later and remains their lead singer. He released his first solo album, Gurrumul, in 2008. It was highly successful, and won several awards.[5] It peaked at #3 on the ARIA Charts and #1 on the independent chart.[6][7] Gurrumul was nominated for four ARIA awards, and won two of them (Best World Music Album and Best Independent Release).[8] He also won three Deadly Awards: Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for Gurrumul and Single of the Year for "Gurrumul History (I Was Born Blind)".[9] At the Independent Music Awards, he won Best New Independent Artist, as well as Best Independent Release and Best Independent Blues/Roots Release for Gurrumul. He won the award for Best Independent Blues and Roots Album again in 2011, for Rrakala.[10]

Yunupingu died at Royal Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory on 25 July 2017 of kidney and liver failure. He was aged 46.[11]


Studio albums


  1. Mark Liebelt. "Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu: Gurrumul (Skinnyfish)". dB Magazine. Archived from the original on 27 February 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. Nicolas Rothwell (31 January 2009). "Second sight". The Australian.
  3. Barbara McMahon (17 July 2008). "Aboriginal singer beats poverty and prejudice to top Australian charts". The Guardian.
  4. Iain Shedden (29 May 2013). "Geoffrey Gurrumul provides a vivid experience of life in Arnhem Land". The Australian.
  5. Amy McQuire (17 April 2008). "Yunupingu's voice creates waves throughout the world". National Indigenous Times (151). Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. Alyssa Braithwaite (26 June 2008). "Gurrumul CDs to tap into UK". National Indigenous Times (156). Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. "Week Commencing 21 September 2009" (PDF). The ARIA Report. Australian Recording Industry Association Ltd (1021): 6. 5 October 2009.
  8. "Winners By Year: 2008". ARIA Awards. Retrieved 30 May 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. "Gurrumul Deadly at Awards". NT News. Darwin: News Limited. 10 October 2008.
  10. "The Winners". Independent Music Awards. Australian Independent Record Labels Association. 2011. Archived from the original on 13 August 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. Aikman, Amos. "Singer Dr G. Yunupingu dies aged 46". The Australian. Retrieved 25 July 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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