I was enchanted by the voice of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, an Australian aboriginal singer who is blind, when I heard a profile about him on PRI’s The World:
Gurrumul… sings in his native language – Yolngu Matha. And his songs aren’t about the sad fate of the aborigines or the hard life of the outback. They’re about what aborigines call the dreamtime. Stories that have been handed down through thousands of generations, about ancestors and origins and creation animals.”
“He has been brought up with his own understanding of the connection with the land. And the ancestors and the spirits and that spirituality is something that he doesn’t think of as spirituality, it’s a normal part of his totems and the ancestors and the land,” says Michael Hohner, Gurumul’s producer at Skinnyfish Records in Darwin, Australia.
Djarimirri, a song about the Rainbow Serpent, was recorded at the Darwin Festival in 2006. Gurumul was an opening act for an Elton John concert there in May 2008. His eponymous album is available here as an exorbitantly priced import, but you can hear more of his music on MySpace.
Gurumul reminded me of another angelic voice from the Pacific islands, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, known lovingly as IZ. More than a decade after his untimely death, his medley of Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World remains a classic of world music. It comes from the album Facing Future
Encore: Listen to Eva Cassidy sing Over the Rainbow at Blues Alley in Georgetown. She breaks my heart every time I hear it.
Café Mouffe opens evry Friday ’round 3 p.m. Please drop by for a listen and a chat. Sometimes the embedded videos don’t work here due to bandwidth constraints, but you’ll always find links to video sources in the notes. Try them. If you’re curious about the Mouffe, here’s the original idea behind it’s creation.