Posts Tagged ‘obituary’

Obituary: Dr G Yunupingu 1971-2017

Posted on August 2nd, 2017 in Recent posts by .

Dr. Yunupingu-©Adrian Cook

Photo by Adrian Cook

Australia’s most successful and unique Aboriginal voice, Dr G Yunupingu passed away on July 25 at the age of 46, after a long illness.

A Yolngu man of the Gumatj clan from Galiwin’ku on Elcho Island, off the Arnhem Land coast, the celebrated singer-guitarist was born blind. Fascinated by music as a child, he learned hymns with the local mission choir, and was provided first with a toy piano accordion and then an acoustic guitar, which the left-handed Yunupingu simply flipped over and played ‘upside down’ – a style he continued throughout his career.

Possessing a natural musical ability and a remarkable voice, in 1989 he was invited to join the seminal indigenous rock band Yothu Yindi, founded by his uncle, the late M Yunupingu. He toured widely with the popular band for three years, both within Australia and overseas, before family members concluded that the on-the-road lifestyle wasn’t good for him. Back on Elcho Island he joined the locally-based Saltwater Band with his friend Manuel Dhurrkay, recording three indigenous-reggae albums.

In 2007, producer-bassist Michael Hohnen suggested that Yunupingu record a solo acoustic album, and the resulting self-titled 2008 release became an international phenomenon, selling 500,000 copies and establishing Yunupingu as a major international artist.

Singing in Gumatj, Galpu, Djambarrpuyngu and English, the ethereal beauty of his transcendent voice captivated millions of listeners around the world. His subsequent albums Live in Darwin, Australia (2010), Rrakala (2011) and The Gospel Album (2015), further expanded his audience.

Yunupingu collaborated with many other well-known artists, performed for Barack Obama, and took part in the Queen’s star-studded 2012 Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Seth Jordan


For cultural reasons the full name and image of the late artist are respectfully not being published.




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Obituary | Esma Redzepova ‘Queen of the Gypsies’

Posted on December 14th, 2016 in News, Recent posts by .


Garth Cartwright fondly remembers the life and career of Macedonia’s Gypsy queen

Esma Redzepova, the Macedonian singer and humanitarian who proudly wore the title ‘Queen of the Gypsies’, has died aged 73. Redzepova lived an extraordinary life; the most high-profile and eloquent spokesperson for Europe’s Roma people, a confidante of president Tito and later a cultural ambassador for the Republic of Macedonia, she released hundreds of records and performed thousands of concerts. Across the Balkans she enjoyed an iconic status.

Redzepova was born at the height of World War II in Skopje’s old town. A prodigious performer, she entered and won a school talent competition in 1957. Stevo Teodosievski, an ethnic Macedonian accordionist and band leader, was so impressed by her performance that he approached her parents (who were initially reluctant to let their daughter sing) and asked if she could perform in his band. Aged 14 Redzepova went on tour. She became a Yugoslav star when ‘Chaje Shukarije’ (Beautiful Girl) – an infectious, upbeat song Redzepova had composed – became a hit (it’s now a Balkan standard). She and Teodosievski then set in motion a musical apprenticeship that trained 48 Roma boys – many of whom would, for a time, play in Ensemble Teodosievski (only five boys were actual wards of the couple). Redzepova popularised ‘Djelem Djelem’ as the Roma national anthem when she performed it at the first International Gypsy Congress in 1969 and her concerts – she held the stage as only a true diva can and let her multi-octave voice wail – were always stunning.

Teodosievski’s death in 1997 and Yugoslavia’s collapse devastated Redzepova. She reinvented her career, recording with Balkan pop singers and folk bands while surfing the wave of Western interest in Balkan Gypsy music. When ‘Chaje Shukarije’ appeared over the opening credits of Borat it surprised everyone (including Redzepova – she eventually got paid). The albums she released over the last 15 years on various West European record labels were often patchy with World Connection’s double CD Queen of the Gypsies gathering her classic Jugoton recordings and thus being essential (her contributions to the Network double-CD Gypsy Queens is of a high standard) but she never disappointed in concert; her last UK performance was at London’s Royal Festival Hall in October 2009 as part of Gypsy Queens and Kings where she, as always, was star of the show. Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (for her work with Kosovo Roma refugees), Redzepova was as inspiring an individual as I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. She will be greatly missed.


Read more about Esma Redzepova’s prolific career in our Beginner’s Guide in #107



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Esma Redzepova (1943-2016)

Posted on December 12th, 2016 in News by .


The undisputed ‘Queen of the Gypsies’ has died at the age of 73

Esma Redzepova led an extraordinary life as an icon for the Roma people and her home country of Macedonia. As a teenager, in the summer of 1957, she won a talent contest where Stevo Teodosievski, a noted accordionist and composer, heard her and was so impressed he asked her to join his ensemble. She went on to record hundreds of songs and gave over 8,000 concerts. 

As well as being a prolific musician, Redzepova was an activist, helping Roma people flee ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and campaigning for women. Her humanitarian efforts won her many awards, including two Nobel Peace Prize nominations.

While age slowed her down the last few years, she was determined to continue singing until the end, as she once told Garth Carthwright: “I have had a rich life, and feel very fortunate. it makes me sad when I see suffering in the world. But music is a force for good and I will keep singing as long as I can.”

Read a full obituary in the next issue, March 2017 (#125) on sale January 27.

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Angus R Grant Obituary (1967-2016)

Posted on October 11th, 2016 in News by .


Words by Kevin Bourke/Photo by Douglas Robertson

After a short illness, Angus R Grant, the mercurial fiddler and frontman of Shooglenifty, has died peacefully at home at the age of 49, surrounded by family and close friends.

With his rock’n’roll swagger, Grant made fiddle playing cool and helped make the Edinburgh-based band one of Scotland’s most successful. Renowned for their ‘acid croft’ dancefloor filling sounds, the band have built a global following with their crowd-pleasing appearances at festivals and were regulars at major events like Celtic Connections, rounding off their 25th-anniversary tour last December with a special performance at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.

The son of the renowned left-handed fiddle player, Aonghas Grant, he was given a quarter-sized instrument by his uncle at the age of five and amazed his family by having three tunes on the go after just a few days. Although teenage years saw him enthralled by the do-it-yourself ethos of punk and giving up fiddle for electric guitar, by the time his late-80s outfit Swamptrash started to transmogrify into Shooglenifty, he had returned to his first instrument.

“With their first album Venus in Tweeds, the band took the folk world by the scruff of the neck…and they’ve kept on shaking ever since,” observed manager Jane-Ann Purdy. “Shooglenifty filled most of Angus’ musical life over the past 26 years, leading audiences in a merry dance and influencing a whole generation of musicians. He lived without ties and responsibility, but was devoted to his music, his family and his fellow musicians.”

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