4 Jun 2013

Yothu Yindi frontman dies

4:47 pm on 4 June 2013

Mandawuy Yunupingu, lead singer of Australian group Yothu Yindi, has died at his home in the Northern Territory. The 56-year-old had been been battling kidney disease for several years.

Dr M. Yunupingu brought his local people, the Yolngu people, and Indigenous issues to a national stage with his musical career.

He co-founded Yothu Yindi in 1986, and was the band's lead singer and most prominent personality. He broke records throughout his life, becoming the first Indigenous Australian from Arnhem Land to gain a university degree, the ABC reports.

In 1990 he also made history when he took over as head of the Yirrkala Community School, making him Australia's first Aboriginal principal.

He was named 1992 Australian of the Year for his work as a musician and educator and his work in building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Dr M. Yunupingu is also widely credited with introducing indigenous music to the world, with the early 1990s hit Treaty. The song remained No 1 in Australia for 22 weeks, making him a household name.

He leaves behind a wife and six daughters.