An Australian band formed by a mixture of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members in 1986, Yothu Yindi blends of traditional Aboriginal music and modern pop and rock influences. Most of the group’s Aboriginal members, including frontman Mandawuy Yunupingu, come from the Yolngu homelands on the Gove Peninsula in Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land.
The band’s sound mixes guitar, bass and drums with traditional instruments such as the didgeridoo, bilma (clapsticks made out of ironwood), etc., with member Witiyana Marika also providing traditional Yolngu dancing to their live performances. The band reached their commercial peak in 1991, when their best-known song, “Treaty,” reached #11 on Australia’s pop charts and its accompanying album, Tribal Voice, peaked at #4.
But the group has remained active in their efforts to promote Yolngu culture, establishing the Yothu Yindi Foundation in 1990 and producing the annual Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures starting in 1999. As they approach their 25th anniversary, Yothu Yindi remains one of Australia’s most influential Aboriginal artists. –Bret Love
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