Seaman Dan
Henry Gibson "Seaman" Dan (born 1929), known universally as Seaman Dan, is a Torres Strait Islander (Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n) singer-songwriter
Singer-songwriters are musicians who write, compose and sing their own musical material including lyrics and melodies. As opposed to contemporary popular music singers who write their own songs, the term singer-songwriter describes a distinct form of artistry, closely associated with the...

 with a national and international reputation whose first recording was released in 2000. His album Perfect Pearl won him an ARIA award
ARIA Music Awards
The Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards is an annual series of awards nights celebrating the Australian music industry, put on by the Australian Recording Industry Association...

 for Best World Music Album in 2004 and in 2009 won again with Sailing Home.

Early life

Seaman Dan was born on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait
Torres Strait
The Torres Strait is a body of water which lies between Australia and the Melanesian island of New Guinea. It is approximately wide at its narrowest extent. To the south is Cape York Peninsula, the northernmost continental extremity of the Australian state of Queensland...

 region of far-north Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

, Australia in 1929. His great grandfather was a sailor from Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

 and his great grandmother a chief's daughter from New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

. Another grandfather came from the island of Nuie in Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

. In the late 1940s and 1950s, Seaman Dan worked as a boat captain and pearl diver - gathering pearl
A pearl is a hard object produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk. Just like the shell of a mollusk, a pearl is made up of calcium carbonate in minute crystalline form, which has been deposited in concentric layers. The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other...

 and trochus
Trochus is a genus of medium-sized to very large sea snails. They are marine gastropod molluscs in the family Trochidae, the top snails....

shells across the north of Australia. He also did jobs such as mineral prospecting and taxi driving.


Seaman Dan's singing came from family, friends and associating with natural musicians in his multi-cultural maritime working life, creating a fusion of music from Australia, Melanesia, North America, Africa and Polynesia, notably the Thursday Island 'hula' style. He has been a regular performer at Thursday Island's local hotels for many years.

He is "A charismatic and consummate performer, Seaman Dan blends traditional Torres Strait Islander and pearling songs with jazz, hula and blues," (from the Australia Council for the Arts' 2005 Red Ochre Award Media Release for the 2005 Red Ochre Award). The Red Ochre Award recognizes and pays tribute to an Indigenous Australian artist who has made an outstanding contribution to the development and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture, both nationally and internationally.

He has performed in Japan and throughout Australia, most notably at the National Folk Festival, Darwin Festival, Adelaide and Adelaide Fringe Festivals, Laura Dance and Music Festival, Tasmania's 10 Days on the Island Festival, NAIDOC Ball, and at the National Museum of Australia's Tracking Kultja: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Festival.

Now semi-retired at the age of 81 years, in 2009 he performed for the Pacific Leaders Forum in Cairns and the inaugural Cairns Indigenous Arts Fair.


  • Follow the Sun (2000)
  • Steady, Steady (2002) Hot Records
  • Perfect Pearl (2004) Hot Records (ARIA award winner for Best World Music Album in 2004)
  • Island Way (2005) Steady Steady Music (Nominated for an ARIA Award for Best World Music album)
  • Somewhere There's An Island-Best of 1999-2006 (2007) Steady Steady Music
  • Sailing Home (2009) Steady Steady Music (ARIA award winner for Best World Music Album in 2009)

External links

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