Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator has been a leader in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years.

In the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Ms Cheetham 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 April 2007 she was awarded a prestigious two-year Fellowship from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board of the Australia Council for the Arts. This fellowship has allowed her to create her second major theatrical work Australia’s first Indigenous opera, Pecan Summer. In 2010 Ms Cheetham brought together Australia’s first classically trained Indigenous ensemble to present the world premiere of Pecan Summer.

The success of Pecan Summer has led Ms Cheetham to create Short Black Opera Pty Ltd, a national not-for-profit company for the development of Indigenous opera singers and has produced and three subsequent seasons in Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

In 2017 she was invited to perform an excerpt from her latest work Eumeralla, a War Requiem for Peace in the ancient language of the Gunditjmara people, at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco for the opening of the Venice Biennale.