A Statement Regarding Yothu Yindi

by the partae


Following some recent inaccurate media reports in relation to the Yothu Yindi band, the Mushroom Group (as the exclusive Label and Publishing representatives of Yothu Yindi), would like to correct and clarify this misinformation.

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Yothu Yindi’s global hit song ‘Treaty’, Dr M Yunupingu’s widow, Yalmay and their daughters agreed for some new remixes to be undertaken and commercially released to commemorate and honour the legacy of the song and the band.

It is worth noting that today, twenty five years later, the issue of a ‘Treaty’ is still on the national agenda and the recognition of the original owners of this land remains unresolved.

The song was written by Dr M Yunupingu AC, lead singer of the Yothu Yindi band and 1992 Australian of the Year, and the members of Yothu Yindi along with musicians Peter Garrett and Paul Kelly after Bob Hawke, in his well-documented response to the Barunga Statement in 1988, said there would be a Treaty between Indigenous Australians and the Australian Government by 1990.

The sole intention of this song was to raise public awareness about this issue so that the Government of the day would be encouraged to hold to its promise.

The song became a number-one hit, the first ever to include lyrics in a Yolngu language.

Well I heard it on the radio
And I saw it on the television
Back in 1988, all those talking politicians

Words are easy, words are cheap
Much cheaper than our priceless land
But promises can disappear
Just like writing in the sand

In 2017, two of the original band members in Witiyana Marika and Stuart Kellaway along with some of the extended Yothu Yindi family agreed to come together for a limited number of live performances for this 25th anniversary.

This has been a special project initiated by Gavin Campbell who helped to create the internationally popular ‘Filthy Lucre’ remix of the song ‘Treaty’ back in 1991 and led to a small number of special event performances under the moniker ‘Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project’.

Collaborating with a group of local electronic producers and musicians to create new updates of Yothu Yindi songs as well as some new material, the live ensemble features those founding Yothu Yindi members Witiyana Marika (vocals), Stuart Kellaway (bass) and also Kevin Malangay Yunupingu (yidaki).

These bespoke performances have been aptly described as a multi-cultural, cross-generational celebration with an eclectic band of musicians and performers including former Goanna front man Shane Howard, singer/songwriter (and son of Witiyana) Yirrmal, plus internationally renowned cabaret singer, actor and visual artist Constantina Bush (aka Kamahi Djordon King). ‘Yothu Yindi and The Treaty Project’ is a fluid concept, says Campbell: “The whole idea of these live events is to honour ‘Treaty’ and the music of Yothu Yindi with a fresh, contemporary electronic twist and to further highlight the fact that more than 25 years on, we still have no Treaty.

The legacy of the lead singer Dr M Yunupingu AO lives on and his lyrics in Treaty and numerous other songs he wrote or co-wrote remain as relevant today as they were in the 1980’s and 90’s.

This land was never given up
This land was never bought and sold
The planting of the union jack
Never changed our law at all
Now two river run their course
Separated for so long
I’m dreaming of a brighter day
When the waters will be one

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