Gurrumul and Blue King Brown

Gathu Mawula [Revisited]



Musical collaborations are hardly rare, but occasionally there are exceptions to the rule and Gathu Mawula [revisited] by Blue King Brown and Gurrumul Yunupingu is one of them. The song originally appeared on Gurrumul’s eponymous debut album where he sung it completely in the Yolgnu language. It’s a song about family, about the land and about our essential connection to it.

In this [revisited] version reproduced and released by Blue King Brown (Lion House Records), Natalie Pa‘apa’a literally raps-it-up in English for us all and reiterates some of life’s simple truths, lending her melodic vocals in a unique verse feature. With Natalie’s distinct vocal, & Blue King Brown’s urban production edge next to Gurrumul’s smooth and subtle tones this delicate Arnhem Land classic has been transformed into something quite special, heartwarming and positively contagious.

“Since Gurrumul’s solo success a lot of people have come to him with collaborative ideas. He hasn’t done any of them. Yet when Blue King Brown learned one of his songs and played it live at a gig, he was very pleased and excited to join them on stage and sing it with them. It was this natural musical get together, that made the possibility of the collaboration turn into something that could be realised. Gurrumul’s solo albums only showcase one side of his potential as a contemporary singer, with his delicate and subtle expression over an acoustic accompaniment. But, as you hear on this version of Gathu Mawula, he is just as comfortable singing over a full band at a high volume and energy. He loves this version.” says Michael Hohnen.

“The beauty about this project is that both artists had a mutual respect for each others craft and wanted to do something together purely for the love of it, there was no strings, agendas or expectations. There was no rush, it took us two years to complete and the end result is not a typical sound you’d hear from either of us. It has been a very enjoyable & special collaboration.” says Carlo Santone
Natalie Pa‘apa’a adds “We have very fond memories of performing Gathu Mawula live with Gurrumul on a number of different occasions, so it was natural to get into the studio together and record our version of his beautiful song. His
voice is intoxicating, I think both of our audiences, and hopefully many more new listeners, will connect with this version.”



Gurrumul is an enigma in the Australian music industry.

Born blind, Gurrumul grew up as a member of the Gumatj clan on Elcho Island, off the coast of tropical North East Arnhem Land. His fragile but powerfully emotive voice has affected the public in a way no other artist has done in this country.  This unique Aboriginal man sings songs about identity, spirit and connection with the land, its elements and the ancestral beings he is related to. His high tenor voice and aura-like persona creates emotion, compassion and a feeling of peacefulness and longing with audiences in Australia and around the world.

In today’s world where the media and the music industries are based around hype, fashion and disposable artists, Gurrumul has emerged as unique celebrity, who will ‘change the way you breathe’ (Brisbane Courier Mail, 2008) and change the way people listen to and experience his Yolngu cultural world through an accessible Western music style.

Gurrumul first came to attention when he released his eponymous debut to international claim. His angelic voice connected with listeners worldwide including Elton John, and Sting who are big fans.  The debut album ‘Gurrumul’ has sold half a million copies worldwide, reaching Triple Platinum in Australia, his second solo album ‘Rralaka’ released in April 2011 has hit Platinum, and the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine declared Gurrumul “Australia’s Most Important Voice” (Rolling Stone, April 2011)

Gurrumul has performed for HRH The Queen of England, US President Barak Obama, Crown Prince Frederik and Princess Mary ofDenmark, in addition to being one of only two Australian performers at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert at Buckingham Palace, confirming this multi award-winning musician’s place as an international star, capable of transcending cultural boundaries.


The two founding and songwriting members of the band, Carlo Santone and Natalie Pa'apa'a, commenced playing and songwriting on guitar, jamming with residents and itinerants alike in their original base of Byron Bay. They originally performed as a percussion duo and also with a band called Skin, which became the beginnings of Blue King Brown.

This beats driven collaboration formed many connections within the Australian roots scene and they were invited to sit in as percussionists with The John Butler Trio at many of their shows, along with many other guest performances with a number of local and international touring artists over the years.

After moving to Melbourne in 2004 to concentrate on the new collective of Blue King Brown, they recruited Salvador Persico as the band's percussionist, adding a Latin influence to the Blue King Brown sound. Sam Cope is the bands keyboardist and Peter Wilkins plays the drum kit. Hailey Cramer, Ngaiire and Jess Harlen were added as the original backing vocalists.

Success came quickly for the newly formed Blue King Brown. Their debut single, "Water", released on their debut self-titled EP, was quickly added to high rotation on Triple J, as well as earning them an Australian Independent Record (AIR) Award for Best Performing Single/EP in 2006.[1]

Blue King Brown backed up their first EP release with a debut album entitled Stand Up, independently released in October 2006 through their own label, Roots Level Records and in Japan through Village Again/Sideout. The album was nominated for the 2006 J Award[2] and their song "Come and Check Your Head" was #100 on the Triple J Hottest 100, 2006,[3] as voted by the listening public.