Gurrumul: A Man and his Music

Geoffrey Gurrumul is set to play Prince Alfred College Oval with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Singer and musician Geoffrey Gurrumul, who has been blind since birth, performed with Sydney Symphony Orchestra last year at Sydney Opera House as part of Vivid Festival. The results surfaced on the ABC live recording His Life and Music late last year and Gurrumul will recreate the show with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at Prince Alfred College Oval. I spoke to Mark Grose, Gurrumul’s manager, who is also managing director of Darwin-based company Skinnyfish Music, which is now well over a decade old. “It’s going well because our continued success with Gurrumul has really given us a national profile,” Grose enthuses. “That’s enabled Skinnyfish to make lots of new contacts and also get ourselves into mainstream music circles. So we can now continue to work with other great Indigenous artists on lots of other great projects.” The success of Gurrumul’s Sydney Opera House concert led to the Adelaide event and Grose hints that the concept may also travel overseas where the captivating singer also enjoys a strong following. “Gurrumul had always wanted to play with an orchestra and he absolutely loved it,” Grose says. “It’s the pinnacle of performance, especially for someone who is blind but with acute hearing to be playing with an orchestra. The concert was just sensational with lots of hard-bitten music industry types saying it was the best gig they’d ever been to. And, as you’d know, they go to lots of concerts as part of their everyday life. “So we knew then that it was the way to go in presenting Gurrumul to his audience,” he adds. “From a concert-goer’s point of view, it’s such a great experience for them as well.” Gurrumul is also working on a new recording with input from his musical director Michael Hohnen. “For the third studio album there will be lots of orchestration,” Grose says. “So the plan is to approach some of the leading orchestral players around Australia and get them involved. “Gurrumul sang some of the new material at Sydney Opera House, although we purposely left them off the live recording for the ABC,” he explains. “But he will definitely be singing some of the new songs when he performs in Adelaide.” Also on the line-up for the PAC concert will be Kate Ceberano, while Hobart’s Dewayne Everettsmith, who has just released his debut album, It’s Like Love, will also be on the bill. “Dewayne has toured with Gurrumul in the past because he really loves the quality of Dewayne’s singing and writing,” Grose says. Skinnyfish Music has inked a deal with Sony to release Everettsmith’s It’s Like Love. “We believed Dewayne’s album was way too big for us,” Grose says, “so we’ve done a deal for Sony to release it. It’s a very soulful album but also very much in the mainstream pop field and we felt we needed Sony’s expertise in reaching that market.” Gurrumul, Kate Ceberano and Dewayne Everettsmith Prince Alfred College Oval Sunday, February 16 gurrumul.com  

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