Eunice hitting the high notes
It’s no surprise that Eunice Djerrkngu Marika has a wonderful singing voice; she’s a member of one of Australia’s renowned musical families.
Eunice, a Yolngu woman and senior elder of the Gumatj people from Yirrkala in northeast Arnhem Land, is Dr G. Yunupingu’s grandmother and her brother is Yothu Yindi, lead singer Mandawuy Yunupingu. While her relatives found international fame as musicians, Eunice is a highly respected gospel singer, sharing her voice and her story with people throughout Arnhem Land.
“I’ve been singing since I was a little girl,” Eunice said.
“I joined the Yirrkala Methodist Choir aged 6, back in the mission days, and sang with my family at church and Sunday School.”
Originally, Eunice and the choir sang only in English but after her sister Gulumbu Yunupingu and her aunty Mutilnga Burarrwanga helped translate many hymns into Gumatj they began singing gospel songs in a language many Yolngu people knew better than English.
The Yirrkala Methodist Choir recently visited Yolngu Radio’s Nhulunbuy studio to record some hymns in English and Gumatj, including Eunice’s favourite “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”. The segment will be regularly broadcast on Yolngu Radio, giving listeners the best opportunity to hear it.
Yolngu Radio, which is broadcast throughout Arnhem Land and Darwin and the surrounding area, is the main news and information source for many Yolngu people.
The station regularly broadcasts in the Yolngu Matha languages of Arnhem Land, including Gumatj. It airs programs in language on topics like economic literacy and broadcasts complete song cycles from a range of clan groups across the Yolngu nations. Eunice acknowledges the importance of a resource like Yolngu Radio.
“It’s good for all Yolngu people to hear our language, our songs,” Eunice said.
“By singing hymns in Yolngu Matha, we are ensuring that our language remains strong and helps younger Yolngu learn their language and history.”