Gurrumul wins Australia's most prestigious music prize

Australian Music Prize awarded for Djarimirri, an album completed just weeks before the musician’s death

The award-winning streak for Gurrumul Yunupingu’s posthumously released album continued on Thursday, with the announcement it had been awarded the prestigious Australian Music Prize (AMP).

Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow) took four years to record, and was completed just weeks before the musician’s death in July 2017 after a long battle with kidney and liver disease.

The album was chosen by a panel of 21 judges, from a shortlist of nine, as the best album of 2018 based on artistic merit. The award, which has been won previously by artists including the Drones, A.B. Original, Courtney Barnett, Sampa the Great, Lisa Mitchell and the Jezabels, comes with a $30,000 prize.

“Every year, the AMP is a testament to the vibrancy and importance of the album as an artform in today’s music landscape,” said Dave Faulker, leader of the judging panel and frontman of Australian band Hoodoo Gurus.

“As Gurrumul proves, albums are more than just a collection of singles, they are a statement, a message, a story that adds an artist’s voice to our nation’s cultural fabric and this is something that Gurrumul and indeed all of our finalists have achieved.”

The award was accepted in Melbourne by Gurrumul’s musical partner and friend, Michael Hohnen.

The other albums shortlisted for the award came from Courtney Barnett, The Presets, Abbe May, Dead Can Dance, Laura Jean, Grand Salvo, Sam Anning, and Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.

Djarimirri, the fourth album of Gurrumul’s internationally acclaimed career, garnered extraordinary attention. The first Indigenous-language album to reach number one on the Aria charts, it won four Aria awards and three National Indigenous Music Awards (Nimas). Gurrumul has also been a major focus of tributes at the Darwin-based Nimas for two years running.

The album sought to balance the two worlds and traditions that Gurrumul’s life and career existed in, fusing traditional Yolngu songs and sounds with orchestral arrangements from the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Hohnen has previously described the album as an “attempt at a creative meeting place where both our cultures continually mirror each other and both win out”.

“We hope anyone who listens to this album can gain more appreciation about this country and its peoples than they did before.

“We have increasingly recognised the importance of this country’s original music and languages, and have tried to infuse this music into our contemporary mainstream culture. In isolation, traditional Aboriginal music can be inaccessible to the mainstream ear – it was from this realisation and inspiration that the album was conceived.”

Contributor

Helen Davidson

The GuardianTramp

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