Gurrumul album first of kind to top charts

Updated April 22 2018 - 10:33am, first published 10:31am
An album in his own language by late musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu has topped the ARIA chart.
An album in his own language by late musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu has topped the ARIA chart.

Even in death, indigenous Australian musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu has continued to break new ground, with his final album becoming the first in an Australian indigenous language to top the nation's music charts.

Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow) has claimed the number one spot on the ARIA albums chart on Saturday, following the album's April 13 release.

The album, more than four years in the making, was finished just weeks before the 46-year-old blind singer, known simply as Gurrumul, died in July after a battle with kidney and liver disease.

It combines songs and harmonised chants from Gurrumul's traditional Yolngu life with orchestral arrangements, featuring members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra among others.

Producer Michael Hohnen, Gurrumul's musical partner and manager, says all Australians can be proud of Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow)'s success.

"The history he has made taking a true Australian language and heritage to number one proves the strength of the underlying cultural identity of this nation," Mr Hohnen said in a statement on Saturday.

"This album is a testament to this great Australian and his family, all Yolngu and the greater Aboriginal population."

Born blind in 1971 on Elcho Island in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, Gurrumul's voice and music took him around the world, performing in places such as New York's Carnegie Hall and at the Queen's Jubilee Concert in London.

The singer's family broke with cultural tradition to allow the use of his name beyond his death, in an effort to ensure his legacy lives on.

Australian Associated Press

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