Gurrumul’s Complete Works Set for Release Through New Decca Deal

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu
Jon Lusk/Redferns

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

Decca is readying a deep and comprehensive range of releases celebrating the career of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, the award-winning late Indigenous artist.

Limited editions of colored vinyl, a boxed set of the singer's complete recordings, collaborations with vocal, electronic and instrumental artists and an orchestral album are on the slate, thanks to a deal struck between Decca Australia, Skinnyfish Music and the Darwin-based label’s managing director Mark Grose and creative director Michael Hohnen.

"Mark and I at Skinnyfish Music are extremely proud of our close and personal relationship with this incredible artist and his community and what we have been able to achieve over the past 21 years,” comments Hohnen, a longtime musical collaborator with Gurrumul.

“We now look forward to working with a major international partner and help bring this story and body of work to a much broader audience".

Blind from birth and raised in the remote Galiwin’ku community on Elcho Island, off the coast of Arnhem land in the Northern Territory, Yunupingu was recognized as one of Australia’s great talents when he died in 2017, aged 46.

Hailed as "unbelievable” by master producer Quincy Jones, Yunupingu’s breakthrough came with his debut 2008 album Gurrumul, released locally by Skinnyfish Music and MGM.

Sung entirely in his native Yolngu language, the set vaulted to No. 3 on the ARIA Albums Chart following his stunning performance at the 2008 ARIA Awards, where he collected a pair of trophies, for best world album and best independent release, adding to the one he earned with Yothu Yindi in 1992.

His followup LPs Rrakala and The Gospel Album both peaked at No. 3 in his homeland. During his lifetime, Gurrumul performed for Queen Elizabeth II, Pope John Paul II and Barack Obama, and caught the attention of Elton John, Sting, Stevie Wonder, and many other artists. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Music by the University of Sydney.

A year after his passing, Gurrumul made history with Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow), which debuted at No. 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart to become the first LP in an indigenous language to lead the national survey. Djarimirri took out the Australian Music Prize and Gurrumul posthumously won four ARIA Awards, including best male artist.

In the same year, his life and extraordinary gifts were explored in a feature-length documentary, Gurrumul.

At Universal Music Australia, explains the company’s president George Ash, “we are very proud of our diverse roster of Australian artists, one which embraces a variety of musical genres and cultures, values tradition and looks to the future.” The arrival of Gurrumul to the fold “is a deep and genuine privilege for all of us at UMA, and we are excited to nurture his legacy and share it with the world.”