Australian singer Gurrumul sells out debut US show

Australian folk singer Gurrumul performs at the Subculture club in New York on April 29, 2015. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Gurrumul played at the Subculture club in New York on the first date of his debut US tour

Tickets to see Indigenous singer Gurrumul - dubbed "Australia's most important voice" - on his debut US appearance in New York have sold out.

The musician, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, is performing at several venues across the US.

Born blind, Gurrumul sings in his tribal Gumatj dialect, spoken by no more than 3,000 people.

The concert was co-presented by music producer Quincy Jones, who has called Gurrumul "unbelievable".

Jones' endorsement is what brought Marc Storey to Wednesday night's concert ("Quincy knows his stuff"), on a visit to New York from Britain.

"I'm a new fan", he said, describing the music as "enchanting".

'Melodies like lullabies'

A New York Times critic at Wednesday night's gig said there was something "preternaturally soothing" about his voice.

"It seems to arrive from a distance, high and serene, with a hint of reediness and a humble quaver, proffering melodies like lullabies," Jon Pareles wrote in the newspaper.

Image caption Gurrumul joined stars at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert in 2012

Shy, and speaking little English, it was left to his bassist Michael Hohnen to introduce Gurrumul's songs at the show, explaining their meanings, and even getting the crowd to imitate a native bird call.

But Gurrumul, who lives on the isolated northern Australian island of Elcho, did speak briefly to thank the crowd.

Along with Jones' support, Gurrumul has attracted praise from other high-profile musicians, including Sting and Elton John.

He was one of 200 Commonwealth musicians chosen to play at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012, playing a song at the BBC studios before hand.

The ABC later reported he was more excited about meeting Stevie Wonder than the Queen.

Gurrumul plays at the New Orleans Jazz Festival on Friday, before heading to gigs in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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