Originally created 02/28/05

Jessye Norman

"Ones voice does not conquer simply by the virtue of its opulence, but does so with its voluptuous shape, rich timbre, vast melody and wide dynamic range." This quote describes the voice of Jessye Norman, a magnificent soprano and opera singer. Jessye Norman has engaged in a career that has brought her worldwide recognitions.

At sixteen, Miss Norman entered the Marian Anderson award contest in Philadelphia, her first significant vocal competition. But, unfortunately, her youth and lack of training brought her only sincere words of encouragement from the judges. Luckily, Ms. Norman was given another chance. A Howard voice teacher had heard her sing for Carolyn Grant, and was so impressed that she recommended Norman for a full scholarship to the school. In addition to training at Howard, Jessye Norman also trained at the Peabody Conservatory and Michigan University. In 1968 she won a competition in Munich, Germany and signed a three-year contract with Deutsche Berlin in Tannhauser.

Throughout her career she received many honorary awards. In October 1989 she was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by the French President Mitterand. In the autumn of 2000, Miss Norman was the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kil Medal in recognition of her humanitarian and civic contributions. Today in Augusta, Georgia, her hometown, the Amphitheater and Plaza overlooking the serene scenery of the Savannah River has been named in her behalf.

Personally, I think Jessye Norman is "one of those once-in-a-generation" singers who is not simply following in the steps of others, but is staking out her own niche in the history of singing. In 1998 I was able to meet her, and take pictures, an experience in which I will cherish for life. Jessye Norman is an inspiration to me because of her ongoing devotion, commitment, motivation and her achievements. Jessye Norman has said that: "If you send up a weather vane or put your thumb up in the air every time you want to do something different to find out what people think about it, you're going to limit yourself. That's a very strange way to live."


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