Torres Strait Islands singer/songwriter Seaman Dan was honoured today with the Australia Council for the Arts' 2005 Red Ochre Award.
Chair of the Australia Council's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts board, Dr Chris Sarra, said the board was delighted to confer this year's Red Ochre Award on Seaman Dan.
'A charismatic and consummate performer, Seaman Dan blends traditional Torres Strait Islander and pearling songs with jazz, hula and blues.'
'Seaman Dan has earned a national and international reputation as a captivating musician whose songs convey the salty, sun-drenched lifestyle of the Torres Strait,' said Dr Sarra.
Seventy-six-year-old Seaman Dan, who also goes by the title 'Uncle', is dedicated to sharing and maintaining Torres Strait Islander culture through music. He says that he hopes younger generations leave his performances saying, 'That old fulla, he's 76 years old and he's still singing. If he can do it, we can do it also!'
Seaman Dan made his first recording only five years ago, after his manager Dr Karl Neuenfeldt urged him to commit his music to CD.
He has since performed in Japan, The Netherlands and throughout Australia, most notably at Tasmania's 10 Days on the Island Festival (2004) and at the National Museum's Tracking Kultja: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Festival (2001), where he presented a stunning introduction to Torres Strait Islander culture and left delighted audiences with a new-found respect and appreciation of life in the Torres Strait.
Distributed through Hot Records, Seaman Dan's albums include Follow the Sun (2000), Steady, Steady (2002) and most recently Perfect Pearl (2004), which won an ARIA award for Best World Music Album in 2004 and made Seaman Dan the oldest ever ARIA recipient.
Senator Santo Santoro will present Seaman Dan with the 2005 Red Ochre Award at 2pm on Wednesday 14 December at the Institute of Modern Art (420 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley). The award ceremony will include a live performance by Seaman Dan.
The Red Ochre Award: Established by the Australia Council for the Arts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts board in 1993, the $50,000 Red Ochre Award recognises and pays tribute to an Indigenous 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. Previous recipients of the annual award include photographer Mervyn Bishop, playwright Eva Johnson and actor/director/playwright the late Bob Maza.