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24 July, 2019

Local singer makes debut

By Rhys Thomas

TO celebrate NAIDOC Week Aboriginal elder and RAAF Veteran Cliff Wiseman released his debut album titled “Well How Then?” an album consisting of 15 songs produced locally in Herberton.

Cliff has spent time during his retirement to compose guitar riffs and country music melodies for the new album.

His efforts have won him an Encouragement Award at the Far North Queensland Country Festival in 2018 along with a certificate for song writing at the Yungaburra Music Festival.

“He was so excited when he got the certificate,” said his caretaker; Karen Ann.

He performs at folk festivals and local open mic nights spreading his love for country music.

“I wanted to make songs that anyone around the world could sing,” he said.

“If an eskimo wanted to pick up a guitar and sing a love song to his wife he could use one of mine.

“I’ve taken inspiration from a lot of American country music.”

He credits his entire career to Johnny McGrath of Petford.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Johnny and the entire McGrath family,” he said.

“I couldn’t sing in front of people, I’m a bit of a closet singer.

“I didn’t start singing in front of people until I got into the Air Force.

“My voice is unique as well; people have trouble matching my voice to my face.

“I’m a bit of a Susan Boyle,” he laughed.

Being a RAAF Veteran Cliff has experienced many special occasions in his life, including three encounters with the Queen and meeting Nelson Mandela.

“He was a great man and it was an honour to stand in his shadow,” he said.

“I asked him; ‘how do you know that you’ve done enough for your family and your country? And he responded, well your still breathing aren’t you?”

“I’ve met the Queen three times and she is an amazing lady.”

The Queen even went so far as singling Cliff out on several occasions as he was the only Aboriginal RAAF member at that time.

“She would walk right up to me and say ‘How are you Clifford’ he laughed.

“I was only in the RAAF for seven years.”

“But that’s when I started signing in front of people.”

At age 8 he was given a guitar, at age 16 he was singing and strumming along to artists like Buddy Holly, Charlie Pride and Jim Reeves, and at 22 he started writing his own material.

All of his songs are locally recorded with the help of Kevin Davis.

“He’s made me sound like a million dollars,” he said.

“I’ve got my own set up here, so I do some work on them before we go over.

“Making an album has always been on my wish list.”

Cliff’s album includes three singles titled; “Hey Babe”, “Lovely Women” and “Mesmerized”

Despite claiming the hardships of making an album, he already has a second one in the works.

“If I knew it was this hard, I never would’ve tried to make an album,” he laughed.

“We sat around for two weeks thinking of a title for the album.

“Eventually we settled on an old murry phrase; ‘Well how then?’”

Cliff’s album “Well How Then?” can be heard online. For more information about Cliff, his inspirations and his story, go to his website at

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