Following in the steps of well-known indigenous artist, Gurrumul, Gawurra (also known as Stanley Gawurra Gaykamangu) is creating a snapshot of Australia and sharing the story of his home town with the world.
“He’s my family and we are a close family – Gurrumul is my hero,” Gawurra says. “When he became popular, I was saying one day I will become like him – which has come true. But it’s not the end for me, I’ve still got to go up [from here].”
As far as beginnings go, Gawurra has been awarded four National Indigenous Music Awards, supported Peter Garrett at the Darwin Festival, received four and five star reviews for his album (Ratja Yaliyali released in April) and most-recently been nominated for an ARIA award for Best World Music.
“That was my first time [being nominated], and when I read all the big stories about the nominations I feel really happy and proud,” he says. “I feel like it’s happening you know, but it’s hard work, working playing and touring around and sharing the message.”
The biggest decision for Gawurra hasn’t been in releasing music into the world (which he says as “sharing the love”) it came with the choice to leave his hometown in Arnhem Land to pursue his music career in Melbourne.
“It’s a big change you know, in finding and meeting other people,” he says on moving with his wife and two daughters. “I miss my family but they’re always calling me and chatting on the phone and saying, ‘Keep going Gawurra, because we’re really proud of you and what you’re doing’.”
Coincidently, in moving away from his family, he’s also moved closer to another relative. Local artist Yirrmal and Gawurra are both Yolngu men, and while they may speak different languages at home (Gawurra speaks Gupapuyngu) each are super supportive of what the other is achieving and how they are representing the stories of their homeland.
“We always support each other with all indigenous people sharing the message and I’m really proud of him for showing something the people will really see,” Gawurra says.
Both artists will be appearing an NaranaFest next month, which celebrates Indigenous artists alongside other local artists. Ultimately, it’s all about sharing stories and connecting through music.
“It’s the story, the nature, the language, the song lines, and I always sing the stories of Yolngu people and it still connects with white people,” Gawurra says. “I’m just] sharing the love and spreading the love of what I have learned from my family and my father. Music is made to make us come together.”
Written by Amanda Sherring
When & Where: NaranaFest @ Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Grovedale – November 5