Col’s Chat – Locals through my Lens – Donna Dyson

Col’s Chat –

Locals through my Lens

Donna Dyson

Donna Dyson’s story is a flowing testimony to the love, dedication and pursuit of excellence. Whether it’s music, education or writing, these principles have fuelled a lifetime of creative ambition. But life was also to present her with both a challenge, and an opportunity to triumph over adversity.  

Donna was a passionate teacher, writer, educational leader and academic, and a lecturer at the University of Queensland when she lost her sight suddenly. The impacts and outcomes were as transformative as they were challenging. “When my sight went, my grief was that I lost my profession because I realised how much of my identity was in that. It was, in fact, my vocational calling. When teaching young teachers, you hope that they leave with a fraction of your heart, because it’s not just about imparting knowledge, it’s about encouraging them to care. My whole world came from that space”.  

It is evident at every point of our chat from that moment forward, that the next phase of Donna’s life was going to be built on the bedrock of self-belief, determination and creative excellence. A multi-awarding winning songwriter (winner of APRA ASA Australian Songwriter of the Year), choral composer, lyricist and children’s writer, Donna’s world is a powerhouse of creative production. At the forefront of this is Spotty Kites, Donna’s house of songs, scores and stories for children. She explains, “Spotty Kites is not a children’s music label, it is literacy through music. The fact is that I lost my sight, but I gained my creative vision”.  

Moving on from the shock of losing her sight, Donna began by teaching a class at a time, then a school at a time, then at university to teach hundreds of young teachers who would educate thousands of students; and now she is touching millions through Spotty Kites.   

A prolific songwriter in her own right, Donna recognises the power of teamwork and collaboration; working with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Damien Leith, Rick Price, Tyrone Noonan and many other amazingly talented artists. “In my world, whatever you are engaged with, people are better together; they complement each other, and most importantly, the song will always be better.  Your own light won’t dim if you can shine the light further. I want everyone to shine.” 

An ambassador for Vision Australia, it’s music that runs through Donna’s veins. She has had it in her since the age of three. The awards are legacy, but she is not about fame and glory, she is about the children; and giving them an offering that is educative, fun and excellent. “I believe that there is a simple, two-word answer for dealing with children; whether they are the naughtiest kid in the class, or the ones you lose sleep over and those words are, ‘Love them”. I spent my whole life loving kids that I could see, and then, despite my sight to be taken away from me, I can still love them and provide for them through music.” 

Follow Spotty Kites on all platforms. There you can read to children, sing to children, play the songs and watch them soar. It’s a journey they’ll never forget.  

Author: Colin Bushell

Photographer: Luisa Garcia