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Mandawuy Yunupingu
, 1991 (printed 2011)

by Lorrie Graham

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 50.5 cm x 40.2 cm, image: 40.1 cm x 26.8 cm)

Mandawuy Yunupingu (1956-2013), singer songwriter, was the lead singer of Australia's pre-eminent Aboriginal band, Yothu Yindi. Born in Arnhem Land, Yunupingu trained as a teacher, completing his degree in 1987 and later becoming the first Indigenous Australian to be appointed a school principal. He formed Yothu Yindi in 1986. Combining traditional instruments, songs and sounds with western rock and pop, the band achieved international recognition with their second album Tribal voice (1991) and specifically with the hit single 'Treaty'. Co-written with Paul Kelly and performed at the launch of the UN's International Year of Indigenous Peoples, 'Treaty' reached No. 11 on the Australian charts and was voted Song of the Year by the Australian Performing Rights Association. Yunupingu retired from teaching in 1991 and toured with the band throughout the 1990s while continuing his work in supporting and promoting Aboriginal rights and culture. He was a member of bodies such as the Yothu Yindi Foundation and the Reference Group Overseeing the National Review of Education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. He was named Australian of the Year in 1993. Yunupingu died of kidney disease in June 2013, six months after Yothu Yindi were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2011
Accession number: 2011.97