Asia

Australian indigenous singer Yunupingu dies

  • 3 June 2013
  • From the section Asia

One of Australia's leading indigenous figures, singer Yunupingu, has died at the age of 56.

The lead singer of Yothu Yindi died at his home in the Northern Territory after suffering from kidney disease.

Yunupingu was a significant cultural figure whose music helped bridge the divide between white and black Australians.

He is also widely credited with introducing indigenous music to the world with the 1990s hit Treaty.

The song, which blends indigenous music and rock, made him a household name.

It also helped win him the Australian of the Year award in 1992, for "building bridges of understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people".

"We have lost a uniquely talented musician, a passionate advocate for Aboriginal people and a truly great friend," Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.

Before entering the music industry, Yunupingu was a teacher.

He was the first Aboriginal person from Arnhem Land to gain a university degree and also Australia's first indigenous school principal, taking over as head of the Yirrkala Community School in 1990.

Yothu Yindi toured internationally and released a successful album in 1992, Tribal Voice.

Former Midnight Oil singer Peter Garret, who is now an Australian government minister, described him as a "path breaker and leader. A shining light for his people."

Yunupingu's family asked media outlets not to use pictures of him after his death in accordance with indigenous traditions.