Danny Bani is from the Wagadagam tribe of Mabuyag Island in the Torres Strait region.
Growing up in a musical extended family, he progressed from singing on the veranda to local performance on Thursday Island to now performing full time in Cairns.
He specialises in several musical genres — R & B, Reggae and Hip-Hop — and has recorded an album, ‘db’, featuring his original songs. He also sings for recording sessions and has acted in a radio play series; recorded for Arts Queensland and Torres Strait Regional Authority projects; and recently featured on an album blending traditional and contemporary music, ‘Kodangu’, with male members of his family including his father, uncle and brothers.
Such projects highlight Danny Bani’s strong interest in and connection to the use of traditional knowledge and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices in a contemporary world.
Mabuyag Island is in the Western Islands cluster of the Torres Strait region of far north Queensland, Australia. Its Indigenous name is Gumu but was named Jervis Island by Captain William Bligh on his voyage through the region in 1792.
It is located approximately 100 kilometres north of Thursday Island, the region’s main administrative centre. The island is a remnant of the now submerged land bridge that once connected Australia and New Guinea before inundation at the end of the last ice age approximately eight thousand years ago.
It is a small and hilly island in a marine environment of complex channels and coral reefs and strong currents and seasonal winds. Its natural environment is rich and diverse and as elsewhere in the region has been occupied for several millennia.
In the colonial era of the 19th century, the Torres Strait region was an important centre for maritime industries such as harvesting pearl shells and beche-de-mar (sea cucumber). The industries attracted many migrants and some South Sea Islander men eventually settled at Mabuyag. Around 1904 at the time of mainland deportations of Pacific Islanders, the Queensland government relocated those in Torres Strait along with their wives and families to St. Paul’s community on nearby Moa Island.
Mabuyag had a reputation for supplying reliable maritime workers and island-based ‘company boats’ took over the commercial operators around the turn of the 20th century under the guidance of the philanthropic Papuan Industries Limited.
In 1898 the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition under Alfred Cort Haddon visited the island and documented cultural customs and collected genealogies that are still useful today as a way to trace social structures and personal and family relationships over time.
Socially, Mabuyag has two moieties, the Gumuligal of Wagedagam on its northwest and the Mabuyagilgal people of the Paipaidagam on the southest.
Today, Mabuyag has approximately two hundred and fifty residents serviced by government offices, an airport, a health centre, several Christian denominations and a grocery. It is respected for its adherence to strong cultural traditions and is noted regionally for its exceptional music, dance and artworks.