Geoffrey Gurrumul YunupinguView in iTunes
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Hailing from a fairly far-flung region, even by the standards of Australia's massive Arnhem Land, Gurrumul Yunupingu took up music early largely as a result of additional time spent with the family in church, a tangential result of being born blind. From the Yolngu people, Yunupingu took up with a relative's band, the influential Yothu Yindi, where he stayed as a keyboard player for seven years during the band's peak time. Eventually leaving to form his own group (the short-lived Saltwater), Yunupingu suddenly sprang upon the mainstream of Australia's listening audience in 2008, showcasing an aspect of Aboriginal music rarely, if ever, heard. Where other bands focus on the traditional instrumentation (clap sticks and didgeridoo), Yunupingu uses a soft double bass and an acoustic guitar. Where other bands may focus on the political aspects of the Aboriginal experience, Yunupingu tends toward a more personal accounting, and where other bands may infuse the music with huge amounts of energy to garner attention from listeners, Yunupingu instead uses a singer/songwriter approach combined with a piercing voice (though primarily singing in native languages). Indeed, it is the voice that has captured the attention of the majority of Yunupingu's fans and critics alike. 2008's self-titled solo release debuted at the number one position on Australia's ARIA independent charts, peaking at number three on the overall charts soon after. ~ Adam Greenberg