A RETIRED country singer is hoping to jump on board with a worldwide trend by releasing a sea shanty dance track to mark his 70th birthday.

Sea shanties, once commonly sung to accompany rhythmical labour aboard large merchant sailing vessels, have become an unlikely global hit after a resurgence on social media.

Now Steve Travis, who has released many albums with several record labels during his decades-long career, has decided to join the trend in aid of a good cause.

Mr Travis, from Colchester, is hoping his new track, a dance mix single of his sea shanty Billy O’Shea, will raise money for a horse rescue centre owned and run by his daughter Emma.

The centre, in Tenerife, where Mr Travis now volunteers, provides a safe and free-to-roam home for 22 horses, 35 cats, 18 dogs, as well as guinea pigs and fowl and a pig called Peppa.

Many of the animals have suffered horrific neglect.

Daughter Emma said such neglect is not unusual in Tenerife, where work horses past their prime are often shackled and left to starve.

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She said: “We’re hugely thankful for our donations from English animal lovers.

“But many of those who visit our refuge are stuck at home this year and donations are down.

“We really need food and supplies for our much-loved animals and I’m delighted my generous dad has dug out and dusted off his guitar after five years in retirement so as to give us a hand.”

Mr Travis first rose to modest fame in 1994 when he released his first album with the MJMusic label.

He later signed a deal with Irish label Foam Records.

Their first album together, 50 Country and Favourite Songs, sold more than 100,000 copies.

He released a further 14 albums on the Foam label then continued his career with London-based Prism Leisure in 2003.

In late 2020, Mr Travis decided to retire to Tenerife to help out at his daughter’s rescue centre.


Emma had the bright idea of releasing one of his former shanty tracks with a modern dance track to act as a fun 70th birthday present.

She said: “I thought it would be fun as a present to have one last chance to have a hit record.

“Who wouldn’t love to see a 70-year-old with a dance track in the charts?

“He then had the idea to make it a charity single.

“Not only would it be great to get my old dad some recognition as the rock star he is, but he then said if he makes any profit, it would all come to us at the shelter.

“I can do something nice for my dad and he can do something nice for us, which ultimately is doing good for all of the animals here on Tenerife. That’s the main goal.”

New takes on the 1860s or 1870s whaling song Wellerman have achieved global popularity.

A version of the song recorded by British folk group the Longest Johns went viral on social media site TikTok.

A remix of the song was released in January, while a version by Scottish musician Nathan Evans further increased the song’s exposure, becoming a chart-topping hit in the UK.

Analysis of the meteoric rise in the popularity of shanties has compared the social isolation of teenage whalers in the 19th century to that of youngsters isolated under the Covid-19 pandemic.

Emma said: “My dad is a country and sea shanty singer who retired way before TikTok and social media was a craze.

“Along with an animal charity owner with self-taught bare minimum digital marketing skills, it’s not the best combination, however, the track is great fun and the cause is well-needed.

“The answer to all our prayers would be if Nathan Evans could share our track, campaign or put our track in one of his playlists. He could change the lives of many, many animals.”

Find Mr Travis’ track on Spotify or at the Tenerife Horse Rescue’s Youtube page.

To donate to the rescue, visit tenerifehorserescue.com/billy-oshea.