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Seaman Dan

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Henry “Seaman” Dan (born 1929), known universally as Seaman Dan, is a Torres Strait Islander (Australian) singer-songwriter with a national and international reputation whose did not release his first recording until the age of 70, in the year 2000. His album “Perfect Pearl” won him an ARIA award for Best World Music Album in 2004.

Seaman Dan was born on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait in far-north Queensland, Australia. His grandfather was a boat captain from Jamaica and his great grand mother a chief’s daughter from Great New Caledonia. In the late 1940s and 1950s, he worked as a boat captain and pearl diver - gathering pearl and trochus shells across the north of Australia.

Seaman Dan’s singing came from family and associating with natural musicians in his multi-cultural maritime working life, creating a fusion of music from Australia, 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 $50,000 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.

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