Tribute to a beautiful singer taken too soon
Gurrumul (PG) Stars Gurrumul Yunupingu Director Paul Williams Review Leigh Paatsch Moving, mesmerising and genuinely from the heart, the extraordinary new Australian documentary holds a mirror to the unique life and music of the late indigenous singersongwriter Gurrumul Yunupingu.
The subject, a blind Yolngu man from Elcho Island, signed off on the final cut days before his recent sad passing at the age of 46.
Tribal elders have allowed its release to honour his legacy, a rare exception from Yolngu lore regarding mentions and depictions of the dead.
In his brief career, the enigmatic Gurrumul crafted a refined body of work that conveys emotions, feelings and spirits that are difficult to put into words. Hear his voice for the first time, one of his aunts says, “and already the song has told you who he is in the world”.
As for any decoding of the achingly beautiful and evocative mystique of his sound, Gurrumul himself would not have a bar of it.
Media interviews, photo opportunities, TV appearances, live tour offers both here and overseas — all the trappings required by a recording artist to achieve success — were mostly rejected without a word by Gurrumul.
The man had his reasons. He missed his family, friends and time alone making music too much to allow for the slightest interruption.
The most remarkable aspect of this doco is that despite Gurrumul’s unyielding refusal to discuss his music, the time we get to spend in his company here speaks volumes for a towering aural artist taken from his home and his people too soon.
Late singer-songwriter Gurrumul Yunupingu in a scene from Gurrumul.