Healing StoneHISTORY is one thing. Mandawuy Yunupingu has been living it since his father signed a bark petition to the Australian Parliament in 1963 demanding recognition of the Yolngu people.

As an educator, storyteller, cultural ambassador, 1992 Australian of the Year, and founder and chairman of the Yothu Yindi Foundation and the Garma Festival of Traditional Culture, his immense historic legacy is all but carved in stone.

MUSIC is something else. It carries stories of time immemorial, the raw emotions of here and now and messages of hope and change for an eternal future. Songs are forever in the moment. Always with the gift of remembering, always with the power to heal.

“HEALING STONE” is the first new song by Yothu Yindi in 12 years. Co-written by Mandawuy and INXS tunesmith Andrew Farriss, it’s as culturally urgent, profoundly personal and ultimately universal as any song in the world-renowned Arnhem Land band’s 27-year history.

“‘HEALING STONE’ is a song about disease and prevention. And it is a message – a simple message to the whole community that kidney disease is a massive problem in Aboriginal communities across Australia and that understanding and action is needed to fix it,” Mandawuy says.

“I was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease four years ago, and I just hope that this song, and telling my story, helps build that understanding and action – action to improve prevention and treatment of this dietary affliction and help create a better future for my people.”

The stunning video for “HEALING STONE” pulls no punches. Continuing Yothu Yindi’s pioneering blend of traditional and contemporary sounds and images, its rhythm of acoustic guitar and yidaki underscores a journey from tropical paradise and corroboree to the grim ritual of kidney dialysis saving the life of Mandawuy and countless fellow Australians every day.

“HEALING STONE” is also the title track of a new compilation assembled to celebrate Yothu Yindi’s November 2012 induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

The other 16 songs span six albums released between 1989 and 2000, from the game-changing Filthy Lucre mix of “Treaty” to the shimmering Neil Finn collaboration “Dots On the Shells”; from the triple ARIA-winning “Djapana” to the earlier Andrew Farriss co-write, “Superhighway”.

A bonus DVD compiles 15 videos including the original “Treaty” mix, plus the classic TRIBAL VOICE documentary originally aired on ABC television.
Together these songs chart not just one of the most remarkable careers in Australian music but a landmark shift in consciousness. The blend of ancient language and urban beats was the symbol that made “Treaty” a milestone for our generation, but the hits that followed transcended symbolism to find a lasting place for indigenous Australia in the musical mainstream.

The exhilarating spirit of place in “Djapana”, the vivid outback imagery of “Mainstream”, the yidaki and earthy percussion of “Tribal Voice” and the message of shared ownership in “Timeless Land” . . . so continued the process of understanding that carries on globally today, from the Yolngu voice of Gurrumul to the many languages and stories of the Black Arm Band.

In 2010, in ailing health, Mandawuy completed his work with the Garma Festival he had founded 12 years earlier and nurtured to become Australia’s most important Indigenous cultural event. From the stage of the National Indigenous Music Awards in Darwin to the ARIA Hall of Fame in Sydney, he remains a powerful figurehead of indigenous pride and accomplishment.

“HEALING STONE: THE BEST OF YOTHU YINDI” commemorates that legacy in history and music. “HEALING STONE”, the song, reminds us that the rest is in our hands.

YOTHU YINDI
Timeline

1956 Bakamana (Mandawuy) Yunupingu born Yirrkala, NE Arnhem Land

1977 Begins teaching at Yirrkala Community School

1985 Writes “Djapana (Sunset Dreaming)” while teaching on Elcho Island

1986 Forms Yothu Yindi with nephew Witiyana Marika on manikay (traditional vocals). Ex-Swamp Jockeys Cal Williams, Stuart Kellaway, Andrew Bellety complete Yolngu / Balanda (European) chemistry

1987 Mandawuy awarded BA (Education) Deakin University

1988 Yothu Yindi represents Australia at Seoul Cultural Olympics
Supports Midnight Oil’s Diesel and Dust tour of US/ Canada
“Gudurrku (Brolga)” appears on Building Bridges compilation
Bart Willoughby (No Fixed Address) joins

1989 HOMELAND MOVEMENT album includes “Mainstream” and “Djapana”
Bakamana becomes Mandawuy (“Clay”) to respect late countryman Introduces “both ways” (Yolngu / Balanda) curriculum as Assistant Principal of Yirrkala Community School
Inaugural Aboriginal Rock Festival, Darwin Neil Young Australian tour support

1990 Tours NZ with Tracy Chapman UK Festival circuit
Mandawuy establishes Yothu Yindi Foundation to promote Yolngu cultural development

1991 Hollywood Records deal follows New York New Music Seminar gigs
“Treaty”, written with Paul Kelly and Peter Garrett, is first Aust. Top 40 hit by an Aboriginal band.
“Treaty” wins Human Rights Award for songwriting
TRIBAL VOICE album includes Gurrumul, Tim Finn, Archie Roach
TRIBAL VOICE hits #4

1992 TRIBAL VOICE wins 5 ARIAs including Song of the Year for
“Treaty”; Single of the Year for Filthy Lucre remix
TRIBAL VOICE hits #3 on Billboard World Music chart, US
“Treaty” hits #6 on Billboard Club Chart, US
International Year of Indigenous People launch concert in New York

1993 Mandawuy named Australian of the Year by PM Paul Keating
“Djapana” wins 3 ARIA Awards
Corroboree in London with Tiddas, Archie Roach, Kev Carmody
FREEDOM album features Neil Finn, David Bridie, Andrew Farriss co-writes

1995 Mandawuy is chair of Reference Group overseeing the National Review of Education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Gurrumul leaves Yothu Yindi to form Saltwater Band on Elcho Island

1996 BIRRKUTA – WILD HONEY album includes “Superhighway”

1997 “I Am Australian” featuring Mandawuy with members of the Seekers and
Air Supply hits #17 on Australian National singles chart.

1998 ONE BLOOD album features Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr, Hothouse Flowers’ Liam O’Maonlai
Mandawuy awarded doctorate by Queensland Uni of Technology

1999 Garma Festival, Foundation’s flagship event, debut in Yirrkala
Foundation launches Yirrnga recording studio, Gunyangara

2000 GARMA album, includes future East Journey singer Rrawun Maymuru
Yothu Yindi plays Closing Ceremony, Sydney 2000 Olympic Games
and Opening Ceremony, Paralympic Games

2001 APRA names “Treaty” among Top 30 Australian songs of all time

2003 Acoustic tour of NT to promote health and commitment to school

2007 Foundation establishes Healing Place suicide prevention program

2008 Mandaway diagnosed with end stage renal disease

2009 “Treaty” added to National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia Register
Jimmy Little introduces Mandawuy’s story on ABC TV Australian Story

2010 As founder, Mandawuy ends 12 year involvement with Garma Festival, Australia’s most important Indigenous cultural event

2012 Yothu Yindi inducted into ARIA Hall of Fame
“Healing Stone”, first new song in 12 years, written with Andrew Farriss

HEALING STONE: THE BEST OF YOTHU YINDI

Album/DVD will be released on Friday November 30th, 2012 through Liberation.

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