World-renowned Indigenous musician and singer, Dr G. Yunupingu, has died in hospital after a battle with illness.
Yunupingu was a founding member of trail-blazing group Yothu Yindi, but gained even wider acclaim as a solo act performing under his middle name. He performed for the likes of Queen Elizabeth and U.S. President Barack Obama, and is recognised as the highest-selling Indigenous musician of all time. Yunupingu's record label Skinny Fish announced the news of his death early on Wednesday morning, mourning him as the "voice of a generation".
Dr G Yunupingu was a remarkable Australian sharing Yolngu language with the world through music. Prayers for Galiwin'ku & family & friends— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) July 25, 2017
"Today we mourn the loss of a great Australian, Dr G. Yunupingu who sadly passed away yesterday in Royal Darwin Hospital at age 46 after a long battle with illness," the label said in a statement.
"Dr G. Yunupingu is remembered today as one of the most important figures in Australian music history, blind from birth and emerging from the remote Galiwin'ku community on Elcho Island off the coast of Arnhem land to sell over half a million copies of his albums across the world, singing in his native Yolngu language."
Due to cultural considerations and sensitivities, HuffPost Australia is not publishing images or the first name of Dr Yunupingu.
Skinny Fish did not elaborate on his cause of death other than "illness". Yunupingu had suffered from liver troubles connected with a hepatitis B infection he carried from childhood, and sparked headlines in 2016 when he claimed he had been denied adequate medical care at a Darwin hospital after being admitted with internal bleeding.
Fellow musicians and political figures shared tributes to Yunupingu on Wednesday, as news of his death filtered through. Midnight Oil frontman and former minister Peter Garrett was among the first.
My dear friend Dr Yunupingu - a truly great musician - is gone. Very sad news. Too young, so much left to give. Heart goes out to family.— Peter Garrett (@pgarrett) July 25, 2017
Rip Brother Dr G Yunupingu, you were a light among us love to his Family & the Galiwin'ku community NT pic.twitter.com/drVp5sUasu— Troy Cassar-Daley (@troycassardaley) July 25, 2017
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Labor leader Bill Shorten, and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, also paid their sympathies.
Dr Yunupingu. A great Australian gone too soon. Blind since birth, he helped Australians see the wonder of the world's oldest living culture— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) July 25, 2017
The premature passing of a good man, the son of a great people and a voice which could evoke an extraordinary magic. https://t.co/PKiPma66Lq— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) July 25, 2017
A film on the musician's life was due to premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival on August 19, according to a post on his Facebook page. The most recent post on the page said Yunupingu was "listening on the phone, to lots of the new audio of his film".
Yunupingu had also recently completed work on his fifth album. His Facebook page talked it up as "his biggest most powerful album he has ever done" in a post on May 31.
The musician performed at concert venues worldwide, and for some of the world's most important people. In 2011, when Obama visited Australia, Yunupingu played for him at a function in Darwin. He also performed on the lineup of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee concert in London in 2012.
Dr G Yunupingu was 46.
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