Those with the biggest impact don't always have the loudest voice. Take the otherworldly vocal prowess of GURRUMUL, a blind Aboriginal man whose powerfully emotive voice fuels the lush and gorgeously orchestrated album GURRUMUL (Skinnyfish Records; release date July 22, 2014). While many artists in music today vie for attention with flash and histrionics, Gurrumul needs nothing but his high tenor to evoke emotion, compassion and peace. It's what made this unassuming member of the Gumatj clan a hugely-respected celebrity in his native Australia. In his music, Gurrumul draws on the stories of the more than 40,000 year old Aboriginal culture, which is older than any other known.
Adored and revered by the likes of Sting, Elton John, will.i.am, Stevie Wonder, Prince Charles and his Queen Mother among multitudes of others, Gurrumul sings songs about identity, spirit and connection with the land, its elements and the ancestral beings he's related to. Mostly, all the songs are in his native tongue of Yolngu, and it doesn't matter if the words are not understood. It's an innate and natural language that transcends language barriers, changing the way people listen to and experience music.
From the opening acoustic guitar strums of the winsome "Wiyathul"to the autobiographical and earnest "Gurrumul History (I Was Born Blind)" to the breezy "Baywara", this album has already sold over a half million albums worldwide, reaching Triple Platinum status in Australia. Sting characterized Gurrumul's voice as "the sound of a higher being." Rolling Stone honored him with a cover and proclaimed him "Australia's most important voice." Press worldwide has responded in kind with the UK's Daily Telegraphpraising, "His songs resonated powerfully… there was so much beauty that it was easy to be moved to tears." Utne Readerlauded his "folk-style acoustic guitar and his sonorously rich voice, emphasizing the mellifluous vowels and trilled r's of his native tongue." The anthemic "Wukun" closes the album triumphantly, a hypnotic meditation that swirls in acoustic guitar and Gurrumul's velvety mesmerizing intonations.