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Seaman Dan Seaman Dan i(A143566 works by) (a.k.a. Henry Gibson; Uncle Seaman; Henry Dan)
Born: Established: 1929 Thursday Island, Torres Strait Islands, Queensland, ;
Gender: Male
Heritage: Torres Strait Islander ; New Caledonian
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Seaman Dan, a singer- songwriter has been singing since 1956. His first recording was released in 2000, and in 2004 and 2009 he won an ARIA award for Best World Music Album, for his albums Perfect Pearl and Sailing Home. Seaman Dan's early life began in Thursday Island, in the Torres Straits, Queensland, his great grandfather was a Jamacian sailor, and his great grandmother was a chief's daughter from New Caledonia. In 1938, he was living with his mother who at the time was a cook at a local hotel in Coen, a small inland town in the Cape York Peninsula region, far northern Queensland. It was there that Seaman Dan fell in love with music. It was not until he started working on boats that he took up guitar, and during the War years through the interaction with American servicemen, his music evolved.

After the war, he moved to Darwin, where he worked in a butcher shop. It was in Darwin that Seaman Dan recalls that he 'used to sing at the Hotel Darwin as a guest artist, and sing Nat King Cole's songs Embraceable You and Makin Whoopee. After leaving Darwin he went back to the Torres Straits and worked as a pearl diver, but continued to perform at hotels and parties, and working in a variety of jobs. Seaman Dan composed his first song TI Blues in 1983. Hearing this song performed at a party, a talent scout invited Seaman Dan to a country music festival in Charters Towers. However, it was not until he was at the age of 70, when Dr Karl Nuenfeldt, a university professor inspired Seaman Dan to record his music.

During his singing career, had earned a national and international reputation as a captivating musician, Dr Sarra notes that his 'songs convey the salty, sun-drenched lifestyle of the Torres Strait'. Since, 2000 when he first recorded his music, he had since performed in Japan, The Netherlands and throughout Australia. In Australia, his most notable performances were at Tasmania's 10 Day on the Island Festival in 2004, and the National Museum's Tracking Kultja: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Cultural Festival (2001).

In 2013, Seaman Dan was inducted into the National Indigenous Music Awards Hall of Fame.


  • Follow the Sun 2000
  • Steady, Steady 2002
  • Perfect Pearl 2004
  • Island Way 2005
  • Somewhere There's An Island-Bet of 1999-2006 (2007)
  • Sailing Home 2009
  • Sunnyside, a Friday Night on Thursday Island: Nat King Cole songs done 'Ailan style' 2012
Source: (Cairns Post 2009; Australia Council; Wikipedia; ABC website:

Most Referenced Works

Personal Awards

2013 Induction NIMA Hall of Fame, National Indigenous Music Awards
2005 winner Australia Council Grants, Awards and Fellowships Red Ochre Award
Last amended 4 Jul 2017 09:15:49
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