Deborah Cheetham AO—Yorta Yorta soprano, playwright, composer, actress and educator—made her international operatic debut in 1997, and has since performed in theatres and concert halls throughout Australia, the UK, the US and New Zealand. She is artistic director of Australia’s national Indigenous opera company Short Black Opera, and founded the Dhungala Children’s Choir in 2009. As a composer, Deborah is best known for her landmark 2010 opera Pecan Summer and the original composition ‘Dali Mana Gamarada’, which she performed as the Welcome to Country for the Sydney Olympic Games opening ceremony in 2000.
In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Deborah was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance. In 2015, she was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women, which acknowledges and celebrates the outstanding achievements of inspirational women in the community.