Donna Burke

Donna Burke

Maki Nibayashi

Singer / narrator

Time in Japan:

Four years

Where are you from?
Perth, Australia.

How did you feel when you first arrived?
Nervous about getting lost on the train, worried I couldn' find any Vegemite and exhilarated because you can ride a bicycle without a helmet here and not get fined.

How did you transform from English teacher to singer?
When I first got here, I started singing at weddings. Slowly, I started getting recording work, and after nine months, I ditched teaching English and became full-time singer. Of course I had to starve for a year and it was really hard - but I'm glad I did it.

What do you do now?
Over the last three years, I've been creating work contacts. I've made demo tapes and learned how to be a freelancer. Now I have a manager and someone who works in the office.

What kind of places do you perform at?
Well, half of my income is from singing and the other half is from narration work. For example, I performed at the Four Seasons Hotel, singing opera at a wedding, then I went to Shizuoka to perform at a jazz wedding. I did some recording for para-para stuff, TV commercials, etc. I love it here because it's incredibly varied every week. I never know what's going to come up.

What are some of your upcoming projects?
I'm singing three songs in a feature film called "The Bleep Brothers," which comes out next year, and producing a follow up CD to Lost and Found.

Do you have any family here?
No, just two little cats and Bill.

What do you like most about Japan?
Riding a bicycle to the supermarket, fantastic restaurants, polite service, clean and fast public transportation and the growing number of non-smoking sections in public places.

What are your goals for the future?
To be a well-known recording artist, performer and voice actor in Japan.

Your recipe for a happy and successful life in Japan?
Keep enjoying your hobbies and keep up with your own culture, so that when you visit home you can still take part in their conversations!

For more information, including upcoming gigs, check out Donna's website at 

Donna Burke spoke to Maki Nibayashi.

Do you know somepne who has an interesting life in Japan? Email us at

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Issues 250-299

Issues 150-199