Yunupingu’s Year

Published in Billboard Magazine

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, the blind aboriginal singer and multi-instrumentalist from Australia’s Northern Territory, is emerging from the shadow of his former band Yothu Yindi.

His critical acclaim hit new levels after he mesmerized viewers Oct. 19 at the Australian Recording Industry Assn. Awards with a haunting performance of “Bapa” from his gold-certified (35,000-plus) debut solo album “Gurrumul” (Skinnyfish Music/MGM). Yunupingu collected the best independent release trophy during the show, after which viewers voted with their wallets, sending “Gurrumul” soaring 27-3 on the next week’s ARIA Top 50 Albums chart. AC-leaning radio stations have started adding “Bapa” to playlists.

Yunupingu spent nine years with pioneering indigenous roots act Yothu Yindi (1986-1995) and has subsequently released two albums as a member of the Saltwater Band. Skinnyfish Music is targeting Europe next for his solo album, beginning with a U.K. release Feb. 9 through Proper Distribution.

“We’re looking to get Gurrumul to the U.K. and continental Europe next year,” Darwin-based Skinnyfish co-founder/GM Mark Grose says. “We’re hoping to secure a couple of major concerts in May and do some media promo work around them. In the next couple of years, the U.K., North America and continental Europe are the key areas for us.”

Yunupingu is signed to Sony/ATV Music Publishing and managed and booked through Skinnyfish.