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「国際化推進のための公開講座 “Finding your Voice”」開催報告

2023年11月29日(水)、ナレーター?声優?歌手として活躍するDonna Burke氏をお迎えし、公開講座を開催しました。オーストラリアでの幼少時代から、日本ではじめた歌手活動やビジネスなどについてお話をうかがいました。常に新しいことにチャレンジし続けるDonnaさんの “Write your own script for life!” というメッセージが心に響きました。当日司会を担当された、英語文化コミュニケーション学科マックニール教授による講演紹介をどうぞお読みください。

The English expression “to have front” has no exact Japanese translation, but it might be understood as showing confidence, even if you don’t actually have any! Actress, singer and entrepreneur Donna Burke used her own unusual career in Japan to demonstrate this expression at a public lecture on November 29th. Her advice: “Fake it till you make it.”

Donna began her professional life in her native Australia with spells as a teacher and a bank clerk but was always, as she put it, a frustrated singer. So aged 31, she moved to Japan for a complete break, partly, she joked, to get away from her family. “Suddenly, I was free – no one knew anything about me, you were only judged on what you were now.”

Her life reinvention began in earnest with a job as the English announcer on the Tokyo to Osaka Shinkansen bullet train. Yes, that dulcet-toned “British” voice you hear counting off the names of upcoming stations is Ms. Burke from Perth, Australia. Millions of people heard it and as she admits: that’s still what she’s most famous for.

But Donna was just getting started. From there, she narrated many documentaries for NHK Japan, including the 2017 International Emmy nominated, “The Phone of the Wind. Whispers to Lost Families”. She built a career as a voice actress, performing and singing in video games Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill 2 and 3. She has performed her songs with symphony orchestras in Paris, Tokyo, Osaka, New York and LA with Konami endorsed Metal Gear in Concert.

Donna has since built up quite a following on YouTube and Spotify, with Glassy Sky from anime Tokyo Ghoul racking over 70 million views and 20,000 covers. And she has a side-career as an entrepreneur, selling hokkairo heat packs to Australian pharmacies. She even had dedicated fans who follow her around: one arrived from Hokkaido to see her at the University of the Sacred Heart! She is now writing scripts for TV shows and shows no sign of slowing down, despite shortly hitting 60 years of age.

Among the questions she was asked: Are there any Japanese singers she likes (not really) and how can our students become better singers. Donna pointed out that the best or most successful singers, like Bob Dylan, are often not technically perfect but move audiences by being idiosyncratic or unique and putting their heart and soul into songs. So, fake it till you make it – and write your own script!