Djarimirri (2008) – Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow) is the second song here to appear from the Australian Aboriginal Singer-songwriter Gurrumul. Additional information about Gurrumul can be found at my first post – Bapa.
Below is a video of Gurrumul singing Djarimirri live at the Darwin Festival 2006 with his friend Michael Hohnen who produced the album and was his translator. Gurrumul’s debut album Gurrumul peaked at No. 3 on the ARIA Charts and was certified triple platinum. It remains one of my favourite albums from my Island home. I even brought it with me; amongst my few other prized possessions; when I came to Colombia in 2009.

Child of mine from the womb
Born into a colourful world
Colourful child From my womb
Sleeping fully formed
At the sacred place where women give birth
I dry my child in the sun
On the ground where I gave birth
The head is placed first Rainbow child

It is said the money he made from his debut album was largely shared with his family, following the Aboriginal tradition of sharing wealth. He did not generally give interviews, instead relying on Hohnen to speak for him, following a Yolŋu custom that dictated that Yunupingu’s role was only to sing, while his elders spoke publicly. In one of his few interviews Yunupingu said that he was generally shy but more comfortable playing music, and went on to say: “I don’t have much to say to people when I talk. That is for other Yolŋu. But I can play and sing and tell people things through my songs. We have an encyclopedia of stories ready to tell people, if they want to listen.

In 2012, Yunupingu was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of Music by the University of Sydney. He died at the Royal Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory, at about 5:00 pm on 25 July 2017, aged 46. He came from from Elcho Island, off the coast of Arnhem Land. He will always remain one of Australia’s greatest voices who took Australian music by storm.

His niece, Miriam Yirrininba Dhurrkay, said “He was writing these songs and the words just came into his mind and heart. Even though he couldn’t see the nature, he was born to feel the nature.” To see without seeing? “Yeah. He had a special place to see, which was his heart.”

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Music
2 comments on “Djarimirri (2008) – Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu
  1. That was fantastic Matthew. Thanks for posting.

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