JESSYE NORMAN THE RENOWNED ICONIC TRAILBLAZING AFRICAN-AMERICAN OPERA STAR HAS PASSED

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[Entertainment News\Opera]
Journalist Dan Rather, on hearing the news of Norman's passing: "We live in an age where we need art more than ever, to uplift our world with the beauty of the human spirit. Few could summon the angels like the soprano Jessye Norman. A uniquely American voice that broke barriers and moved hearts. We will miss her dearly. May she Rest in Peace."
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

International renowned African-American opera singing superstar, and four-time Grammy winner, Jessye Norman, passed yesterday, Sep. 30, 2019, at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York. She was 74.

Norman died of septic shock and multiple organ failure. A spinal cord injury she sustained, in 2015, was cited as a contributing factor. Norman who was born in Augusta, Georgia, on Sep. 15, 1945, rose to great heights in the world of opera with her superb soprano singing.

In a released statement, Norman's family said, “We are so proud of Jessye’s musical achievements and the inspiration that she provided to audiences around the world that will continue to be a source of joy. We are equally proud of her humanitarian endeavors addressing matters such as hunger, homelessness, youth development, and arts and culture education.”

Norman was known as an iconic trailblazing artist, who believed in stretching boundaries. She once said, “Pigeonholing is only interesting to pigeons.”

I have always been drawn to things other people might consider unusual. I’m always taken by the text and beautiful melody," said Norman. "It’s not important to me who has written it. It’s just more reasonable to have an open mind about what beauty is. It’s important for classical musicians to stretch and think beyond the three B’s (Bach, Beethoven and Brahms). They were wonderful composers, but they went to the great beyond a long time ago. There’s lots of music that will live for a very long time.”

Norman once said she would like to see more African-American artists on opera stages.

"I would like to see more African-Americans on the stage at the Metropolitan Opera here in New York, said Norman. "There are certainly some, but not nearly enough, and I come across so many singers who are terribly gifted and that would be an asset to these opera companies around our country. But we still have these people who are just a little bit hesitant, and perhaps not as openhearted ... as I’d like them to be.”

Journalist Dan Rather, on hearing the news of Norman's passing, said, "We live in an age where we need art more than ever, to uplift our world with the beauty of the human spirit. Few could summon the angels like the soprano Jessye Norman. A uniquely American voice that broke barriers and moved hearts. We will miss her dearly. May she Rest in Peace."

A statement by the The Metropolitan Opera reads: "The Met mourns the loss of Jessye Norman, one of the greatest soprano of the past half-century. Starting with her Met debut as Cassandra in Berlioz's Les Troyens on Opening night of the Mets centennial 1983-84 season, Norman sang more than 80 performances with the company, dazzling audiences with her beautiful tone, extraordinary power, and musical sensitivity. A revered Wagnerian, at the Met she was beloved for her interpretations of Elisabeth in Tannhauser, Sieglinde in Die Walkure, and Kundry in Parsifal. Her wide-ranging Met repertoire also included works by Poulenc, Janacek, Bartok, and Schoenberg. She will perhaps be best remembered for her glorious definitive portrayal of Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, pictured."

"Jessye Norman was one of the greatest artists to ever sing on our stage,"  said The Met's General Manager Peter Gelb. "Her legacy shall forever live on."

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