SYDNEY (AP)—A blind Aboriginal musician renowned for singing in his native Yolngu language with a heart-rending voice and a unique guitar-playing style has died, his recording label said Wednesday. He was 46.
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, whose is now referred to by local media as Dr. G. Yunupingu because of cultural sensitivities among northern Australian Aborigines around naming the dead, died Tuesday after a long illness in a Darwin Hospital, west of his ancestral country known as Arnhem Land, Darwin-based Skinnyfish Music said in a statement.
“Yunupingu is remembered today as one of the most important figures in Australian music history, blind from birth and emerging from the remote Galiwin’ku community on Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem Land to sell over half a million copies of his albums across the world, singing in his native Yolngu language,” the statement said.
His debut album “Gurrumul” released in 2008 hit triple platinum in Australia, silver in Britain and topped charts in other countries.
He released another two top-five studio albums —“Rrakala” and “The Gospel Album” — and performed around the world for audiences including former President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tweeted that Yunupingu was “a remarkable Australian sharing Yolngu language with the world through music.”