Norman, Jessye

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Opera singer Jessye Norman was born on September 15, 1945 in Augusta, Georgia to Janie King Norman and Silas Norman. She graduated from Augusta's Lucy C. Laney Senior High School. Following her participation in Philadelphia's Marian Anderson Vocal Competition in 1960, Norman received a full-tuition scholarship to attend Howard University, where she completed her B.M. degree in 1967. She then earned her M.M. degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1968.

After Norman won the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, Germany in 1969, Egon Seefehlner invited her to perform as Elisabeth inTannhauserwith Deutsche Oper Berlin. She signed a three-year contract with the opera company and, in 1970, she performed inDeborah, followed byL'AfricaineandLe nozze di Figaroat the Berlin Festival. In 1972, Norman sang Verdi'sAidaat La Scala in Milan. Norman continued to perform internationally as a soloist and recitalist. She returned to the stage, performing inOedipus rexandDido and Aeneaswith the Opera Company of Philadelphia in 1982. The following year, Norman performed at the Metropolitan Opera for its 100th anniversary season. Following a 1987 performance with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Norman was featured inErwartung, the Metropolitan Opera's first single-character production, andBluebeard's Castlein 1989. In 1990, she performed inTchaikovsky: 150th Birthday Gala from Leningradalong with Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman. Her first appearance with the Lyric Opera of Chicago was in the title role ofAlcestein 1990. She was cast as Jocasta in a televised production ofOedipus rexat the inaugural Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto in 1993, the same year she was featured inAriadne auf Naxosat the Metropolitan Opera, followed byThe Makropulos Casein 1996. In 1998, she performed at Carnegie Hall inSacred Ellington, featuring music by Duke Ellington, and released a jazz crossover project,I Was Born in Love with You, with Michel Legrand. In 2002, she established the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, a tuition-free, after school arts program in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia. In collaboration with New York City cultural institutions, Norman curatedHonor!: A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacyin 2009. With seventy-five recordings to her credit, in 2010, Norman releasedRoots: My Life, My Song.

A five-time Grammy Award winner, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Norman has received forty-five honorary doctorate degrees, is a Kennedy Center Honoree and holds the National Medal of the Arts. Graduate fellowships at the University of Michigan's School of Music have also been named in her honor. Norman serves as a spokesperson for The Partnership for the Homeless and was named an honorary ambassador to the United Nations. Additionally, she serves on the board of trustees of the New York Public Library, The New York Botanical Garden, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, Paine College and Carnegie Hall.

Norman passed away on September 30, 2019.

Jessye Norman was interviewed byThe HistoryMakerson November 21, 2016 and April 27, 2017.

From The HistoryMakers™ biography: https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/A2016.128

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Winigrad, Allen J.,. Allen J. Winigrad photographs of performing artists, 1973-1989. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Rosa Ponselle collection of performances, recorded interviews, and films, 1926-1987 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf Fisher, M. F. K. (Mary Frances Kennedy), 1908-1992. Autograph letter signed with initials : Aix-en-Provence, to David Pleydell-Bouverie, 1976 July 19. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791. Le mariage de Figaro [Multimédia multisupport] : extrait / Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, comp. ; Ingvar Wixell, BAR ; Jessye Norman, Mirella Freni, S ; Waldimiro Ganzarolli, B ; Choeur et orchestre symphonique de la BBC ; Peter Gelhorn, chef de choeur ; Sir Colin Davis, dir. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn University of Michigan. News and Information Services. Faculty and Staff Files, 1944-2005 (bulk 1960-1995) Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Jack Lund Collection, 1887-2009 Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Presidential Files. 1977 - 1981. 3/29/79 [2]
creatorOf Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791. Le mariage de Figaro : extrait / Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, comp. ; Ingvar Wixell, BAR ; Jessye Norman, Mirella Freni, S ; Waldimiro Ganzarolli, B ; Choeur et orchestre symphonique de la BBC ; Peter Gelhorn, chef de choeur ; Sir Colin Davis, dir. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Ambassador Auditorium Collection, 1974-1995 Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries
referencedIn Winigrad, Allen J.,. Allen J. Winigrad slides of performing artists, 1973-1989. University of Pennsylvania Library
referencedIn University Musical Society (University of Michigan) Records, 1879-2009 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
creatorOf University of Michigan. University Musical Society. University Musical Society (University of Michigan) visual material series. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Library of Congress. Music Division
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Jessye Norman The HistoryMakers
Relation Name
associatedWith Fisher, M. F. K. (Mary Frances Kennedy), 1908-1992. person
associatedWith Lund, Jack H. person
associatedWith Ponselle, Rosa, 1897-1981 person
associatedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith University of Michigan. News and Information Services. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Michigan. University Musical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Winigrad, Allen J., person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Augusta (Ga.)
New York (State)
New York (N.Y.)
Subject
Occupation
Singers
Opera Singer
Activity

Person

Birth 1945-09-15

Birth 19450915

Death 20190930

Americans

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 21307732