On the eve of the National Indigenous Music Awards, national treasure Gurrumul Yunupingu is releasing a new single ‘Maralitja – Crocodile Man” as a tribute to the man he called “wawa” or “brother”, Dr Yunupingu.
The song was a favourite of Dr Yunupingu, originally from Yothu Yindi’s multiplatinum album Tribal Voice and will be performed with the original band and Gurrumul this Saturday at the National Indigenous Music Awards. Dr Yunupingu heard Gurrumul’s version last year at the ARIA Hall of Fame inductions, and his family have vetted the release.
“The passing of Dr. Yunupingu was significant to Gurrumul, and there is an enormous level of respect there – of what he stood for, the history he has created, and also what they achieved together” said friend and musical collaborator Michael Hohnen. “He loved that man for many reasons but remembers this song ‘Maralitja Man’ or ‘Crocodile Man’ as a sharing of an identity with which they were both born – the identity of the saltwater crocodile”.
Upon his brother’s passing, Gurrumul released the statement “I respect him….and I love him…. And I miss him”, one of the few times the singer has made a public statement other than via his songs since his journey in music began with his role in Yothu Yindi.
The winner of ten previous NIMAs, Gurrumul is pleased to be performing at Saturday’s event where he is also up for National Artist of the Year. He also holds two nominations for Song of the Year for his collaboration with Yolanda Be Cool and Flume on “A Baru In New York” and his stunning duet with Delta Goodrem “Bayini” which he performed earlier this year on The Voice, topping the iTunes charts and becoming the first Indigenous language release to hit the ARIA top five singles.
Gurrumul is also nominated for Act of the Year at the 2013 Deadly Awards to be held at the Sydney Opera House this September.
theaussieword.com caught up with Gurrumul’s friend and musical collaborator Michael Hohnen!
How does Gurrumul feel to be able to release this tribute for Dr Yunupingu?
This release is a great opportunity to pay respect to a man and a big part of Gurrumul’s life that gave him so much. Yothu Yindi was Gurrumul’s apprenticeship into the industry, and this song was a big part of that journey.
It has been a great year for Gurrumul, what does it mean to be nominated for Act of the Year at the 2013 Deadly Awards?
Recognition within one’s own group is a very heartening and affirming moment for Gurrumul. To take that to a national level, and in the Sydney arena he feels that it is extended beyond what he really expects in some ways. He revels in the fact that this nomination has come in and that people who vote in The Deadlys from around Australia think as much of him as his family in his community in NE Arnhem Land.
Does Gurrumul have any exciting projects coming up for 2014?
Yes. Many, but one we have started premiering is his 3rd album. We don’t yet have a release date but it will be along the lines of some of the new works we recently performed at VIVID Sydney as part of the Gurrumul – His Life and Music concert series with the orchestra. They are explorations into traditional song, harmonised and orchestrally arranged. AWAYE just played a couple of the pieces live for their 21st birthday celebrations, and we are doing some more live versions soon.
A stunning Delta Goodrem joins forces with the brilliant Gurrumul on Aussie talent show The Voice to perform Gurrumul’s track Bayini…
We breed them well here in Australia.
GURRUMUL: HIS LIFE AND MUSIC
BY ROBERT HILLMAN
“THE ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY OF ONE OF THE MOST INSPIRING MUSIC STORIES OF OUR GENERATION”
Part road trip, part biography, award-winning biographer Robert Hillman takes you from the world’s great concert halls and recording studios and into Yolngu heartland — to reveal the story and inspirations behind Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu’s international success and fame. Through his own lyrics, in interviews with family, friends and fellow musicians, and time spent on the road with Gurrumul himself, this is a very Australian story of how the former drummer from Yothu Yindi, a double-bass player from Melbourne, and a wool classer from everywhere, meet on Elcho Island in 1996 and combined their talents and optimism to reveal an astonishing musical gift – that has left audiences all over the world spellbound.
Featuring previously unpublished images from Gurrumul’s childhood and images from some of the world’s best rock photographers, Gurrumul: His Life and Music provides in words, pictures and song, unforgettable insight into the story of one of Australia’s most original performers. It also includes an exclusive CD of remixed songs from his bestselling albums Gurrumul and Rrakala, featuring rare remixes of the songs ‘Bäpa’ and ‘Gurrumul History (I was Born Blind)’ and ‘Warwu’.
Gurrumul has performed for Queen Elizabeth II, US President Barack Obama, Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary of Denmark, in addition to being one of only three Australian performers at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert, confirming this multi award-winning musician’s place as an international star, whose life and music transcends cultural boundaries and music genres. Legendary performers such as Elton John and Sting are among his fans. His first solo album, Gurrumul, sold half a million copies worldwide, reaching Triple Platinum in Australia. His second album, Rrakala, achieved Platinum status within a year of its release in April 2011. His work as a solo artist, and member of Yothu Yindi and Saltwater Band, has been recognised with multiple ARIA and Deadly awards. In 2012 he was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from the University of Sydney.
Robert Hillman is a Melbourne-based writer of fiction and biography. His autobiography The Boy in the Green Suit won the Australian National Biography Award for 2005. His critically acclaimed My Life as a Traitor (written with Zarah Ghahramani) was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2008. His most recent collaborations with Najaf Mazari, The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif and The Honey Thief, grew out of Robert’s abiding interest in the hardships and triumphs of refugees and the rich storytelling traditions of Afghanistan.
Thank you to Nicola Woods, HarperCollins Publishers Australia and ABC Books – we appreciate your support at theaussieword.com!
The Northern Territory’s Gurrumul has gone viral with his Yolanda Be Cool song collaboration “A Baru In New York” remixed by #1 ARIA hitmaker Flume. Gurrumul wrote the lyrics about his totem — A “Baru” is a Saltwater Crocodile.
Creating an amazing soundscape which brings Gurrumul’s distinctive vocal and ambience to a whole new level, Flume’s “Soundtrack Version” of Yolanda Be Cool/Gurrumul’s “A Baru In New York” was leaked to Soundcloud last Friday, picking up a near 150,000 streams and over 800 shares in less than a week.
“Gurrumul is so impressed with how his song with Yolanda Be Cool was reinterpreted by Flume,” said Gurrumul’s friend and collaborator Michael Hohnen. “Gurrumul and I listened together to the remix, sitting on the floor, in front of a huge stereo system. He proclaimed at the end of it – “that sounds like a crocodile movie”.
“Gurrumul has embraced this song ever since he created it with the Yolanda boys, and even appeared in the beautiful music video. Flume’s managed to create almost electro-orchestral backing, while retaining the sense of history and dignity which is such a quality of Gurrumul’s music.”
This unique collaboration which has brought together three groundbreaking Australian artists, Gurrumul, Yolanda Be Cool and Flume, has already been labelled as an important bridge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous music, mirroring the cultural contribution made by Gurrumul’s former band Yothu Yindi and the remixes of their 1991 song Treaty.
This is some a m a z i n g music right here! Check it out!