Yolngu Album Tops Australian Charts

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu in 2012: Eva Rinaldi [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu has made history by becoming the first artist to top the Australian ARIA charts while singing in an indigenous language, just weeks after his death.
The late singer-songwriter, who was born blind, sang in a number of Yolngu languages as well as English. The Yolngu language family only has around 4,500 speakers.

Entitled Djarimirri, which means “child of the rainbow,” the record features traditional songs in Yolngu with orchestral arrangements from the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Yunupingu also sang in Gumatj, which has fewer than 400 speakers according to the 2006 census. His family granted the media and his record label permission to use his full name and image following his death, despite the Yolngu custom of forbidding people from using someone’s name or picture after their death.

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