The fourth and final studio album by Dr G Yunupingu, the Yolŋu singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from northeastern Arnhem Land’s Elcho Island, became the first Indigenous-language album to top the Australian chart. A tribute concert called Buŋgul(or Bunggul,which means meeting) was a mesmerising, emotionally affecting sensation.

BunggulBuŋgulat the Sydney Opera House. Photo © Victor Frankowski

The entire set of Dr G’s posthumous chart-topping 2018 album Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow)was played live by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to Dr G’s pre-recorded, multitracked voice as nine male Yolŋu family members danced, sang or played clapsticks and yidaki. The title track is about the rainbow serpent as a creation figure, a way of seeing his mother, Daisy, of the Galpu clan. Sung in Dhangu, the lyrics translate in part as: “I dry my child in the sun / On the ground where I gave birth.”

On his first solo album, Gurrumul, which introduced the world to his transcendent voice after stints as a musician in Yothu Yindi and the Saltwater band, Dr G imagined this mother-son relationship from his view: “I am a Rainbow child,” he sang. Born blind, with an innate...

This article is available to Limelight subscribers.

Log in to continue reading.

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now