The great grand African-American opera singer and recitalist, Jessye Norman passed away last week on 30 September, at the age of 74 and took magnificent and majestic voice with her. Born on 15 Septemeber, 1945, in Augusta, Georgia, she won many awards and received many honors in her life.
Born in a musical family, she was herself a singer by birth. She made her first opera debut in the ’60s at Berlin’s Deutsche Opera. In 1968, Jessye won the Munich International music competition.
Her elegant voice fascinates anyone who hears her. In the 70’s she sang at every noble opera houses of Europe.
In 1982 Norman made her debut in the US. As at that time, racial discrimination was at its peak in the US, and due to that, she forced to sing in Europe, making her US debut in the ’80s.
As an elegant performer, she taught the world that art knew no boundaries. She’s more than a singer; she’s an artist, a performer. Her regal stage presence and personality add life to her performance.
She was invited to the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 to sing at its opening ceremony. She also sang French and German melodies. She was one of the great African-American singers of her time.
Once she said on what performing meant to her. “I’m very serious about studying and knowing what it is I’m singing. And I am afraid I do have an awful lot to say.”
She also won five Grammy awards, in which one is for her lifetime achievement. In 1997, Jessye received the Kennedy Center Honor and National Medal Of Arts in 2009.
She always supported other black artists like Dorothy Maynor, Marian Anderson, and Leontyne Price.
In one of her interviews, she said that “They made it possible for me to say,’ I will sing French opera, or ‘I will sing German Opera’ instead of being told ‘you will sing Porgy & Bess.‘ Look, it would be unrealistic to pretend that racial prejudice doesn’t exist because It does! Though there is law, that doesn’t change the hearts and minds of men. She said that it takes longer and she does not consider her blackness a problem and she consider it rather nice.