International Opera Star Dies: Jessye Norman Biography, Wiki, Age, Family, Net Worth, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Fast Facts You Need to Know

Jessye Norman Biography

Jessye Norman Biography

Jessye Mae Norman born on September 15, 1945, and Died on September 30, 2019. Jessye Norman was an American opera singer and recitalist. A dramatic soprano, Norman is associated in particular with the Wagnerian repertoire, and with the roles of Sieglinde, Ariadne, Alceste, Leonore, and Cassandre.

Norman was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1999, and became a Spingarn Medalist in 2013. Apart from receiving several honorary doctorates and other awards, she also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Medal of Arts, and was a member of the British Royal Academy of Music.

Jessye Norman Age

She was 74 years old.

Jessye Norman Parents

Norman was born in Augusta, Georgia, and raised in a musical family. Her father is Silas Norman while her mother is Janie King-Norman. Norman’s mother and grandmother were pianists, her father a singer, and she grew up singing in church.

Jessye Norman Early life and musical education

Norman was born in Augusta, Georgia, to Silas Norman, an insurance salesman, and Janie King-Norman, a schoolteacher. She was one of five children in a family of amateur musicians; her mother and grandmother were both pianists, and her father sang in a local choir. Norman’s mother insisted that she start piano lessons at an early age. Norman attended Charles T. Walker Elementary School, A.R. Johnson Junior High School, and Lucy C. Laney Senior High School, all in downtown Augusta.

Norman proved to be a talented singer as a young child, singing gospel songs at Mount Calvary Baptist Church at the age of four. When she was nine she was given a radio for her birthday and soon discovered the world of opera through the weekly broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera, which she listened to every Saturday while cleaning up her room. Norman started listening to recordings of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price, whom Norman credits as inspiring figures in her career. At age 16, Norman entered the Marian Anderson Vocal Competition in Philadelphia which, although she did not win, led to an offer of a full scholarship at Howard University, in Washington, D.C. While at Howard, she sang in the university chorus and as a professional soloist at the Lincoln Temple United Church of Christ, while studying voice with Carolyn Grant. In 1964, she became a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma.

In 1965, along with 33 other female students and four female faculty, she became a founding member of the Delta Nu chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota. In 1966 she won the National Society of Arts and Letters singing competition. After graduating in 1967 with a degree in music, she began graduate studies at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and later at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance in Ann Arbor, Michigan, from which she earned a master’s degree in 1968. During this time Norman studied voice with Elizabeth Mannion and Pierre Bernac.

Jessye Norman Early career

After graduating, Norman, like many young musicians at the time, moved to Europe to establish herself. In 1969 she won the ARD International Music Competition in Munich and landed a three-year contract with the Deutsche Oper Berlin. She made her operatic début that same year as Elisabeth in Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Critics at the time described Norman as having “the greatest voice since the German soprano Lotte Lehmann.”

Jessye Norman Professional Career

In October 1980 Norman returned to the operatic stage in the title role of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos at the Hamburg State Opera in Germany. She made her United States operatic début in 1982 with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, appearing in Stravinsky’s Oedipus rex as Jocasta and in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas as Dido. Norman followed these with her début at the Metropolitan Opera in 1983, appearing in Berlioz’s Les Troyens as both Cassandra and Dido, a production that marked the company’s 100th-anniversary season. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica: “By the mid-1980s she was one of the most popular and highly regarded dramatic soprano singers in the world.” She was invited to sing at the second inauguration of U.S. President Ronald Reagan on January 21, 1985, an invitation she debated accepting as an African American and a Democrat (as well as a nuclear disarmament activist). In the end, she did accept and sang the folk song “Simple Gifts”. In 1986, Norman sang at Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th birthday celebration. That same year she appeared as a soloist in Strauss’s Four Last Songs with the Berlin Philharmonic during its tour of the US.

From the early 1990s, Norman lived in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, in a secluded estate known as “The White Gates” previously owned by television personality Allen Funt. In 1990 she performed at Tchaikovsky’s 150th Birthday Gala in Leningrad and made her Lyric Opera of Chicago début in the title role of Gluck’s Alceste. In 1991 she sang for the 700th Celebration Party of Swiss National Day. That same year, she performed in a concert recorded live with Lawrence Foster and the Lyon Opera Orchestra at Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral. In 1992 Norman sang Jocasta in Stravinsky’s Oedipus rex at the opening operatic production at the new Saito Kinen Festival in the Japanese Alps near Matsumoto. In 1993, she sang the title role in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. In 1994, Norman sang at the funeral of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In September 1995, she was again the featured soloist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, this time under Kurt Masur’s direction, in a gala concert telecast live on PBS marking the opening of the orchestra’s 153rd season. In 1996 Norman gave a highly lauded performance as the title character in the Metropolitan Opera’s premiere production of Janáček’s The Makropulos Affair.

The Jessye Norman School of the Arts

In 2003, the Rachel Longstreet Foundation and Norman partnered to open the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, a tuition-free performing arts after-school program for economically disadvantaged students in Augusta, Georgia. Norman was actively involved in the program, including fundraisers for its benefit.

Jessye Norman Memoir

On May 6, 2014, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt published Norman’s memoir, Stand Up Straight and Sing!

Jessye Norman Husband

Norman was not married neither did she have children. Speaking to the LA Times about forgoing children and a husband. “I know too well what it takes out of people being in this kind of job,” she says, speaking of the possibility of marriage, “and being separated puts a great strain on any kind of relationship.”

Jessye Norman Death & Cause of Death

Jessye Norman died in New York on Monday morning September 30th, 2019 from septic shock and multi-organ failure secondary to complications of a spinal cord injury she had sustained in 2015, according to the statement.

Jessye Norman, the renowned international opera star whose passionate soprano voice won her four Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honor, has died, according to family spokesperson Gwendolyn Quinn.

A statement released to The Associated Press on Monday said Norman died at 7:54 am Eastern time from septic shock and multi-organ failure secondary to complications of a spinal cord injury she had sustained in 2015.

She died at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York and was surrounded by loved ones.

“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,” a statement from her family reads. “We are equally proud of her humanitarian endeavors addressing matters such as hunger, homelessness, youth development, and arts and culture education.”

Jessye Norman Honors and awards

National Society of Arts and Letters singing competition (1966)
First prize at the ARD International Music Competition in Munich (1968)
Gramophone Award for her recording of Strauss’ Four Last Songs (1982)
Musical America magazine’s Musician of the Year.
Honorary doctorate from Howard University (1982)
Honorary doctorate from the Boston Conservatory of Music and the University of the South (1984)
Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Soloist Performance for “Ravel: Songs of Maurice Ravel” (1984)
Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France, 1984)
France’s National Museum of Natural History named an orchid for her (1984)
Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording for “Wagner: Lohengrin” (1988)
Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording for “Wagner: Die Walkuere” (1989)
Légion d’honneur (France, 1989)
Honorary Ambassador to the United Nations by UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (1990)
Honorary Doctor in Music from Juilliard School of Music (1990)
Norman’s home town, Augusta, Georgia, dedicated Riverwalk Augusta’s amphitheater, named in her honor (1991)
Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class (1995)
Norman was a featured performer during the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia
Winner of the 1997 Radcliffe Medal, presented annually by the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association to honor individuals whose lives and work have had a significant impact on society.
Norman was honored by New York’s Associated Black Charities at the 11th Annual Black History Makers Awards Dinner for her contributions to the arts and to African-American culture (March 1997)
Kennedy Center Honors (youngest recipient in the Honors’ 20-year existence) (December 1997)
Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording for “Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle” (1998)
Honorary doctorate from Harvard University(1998)
Georgia Music Hall of Fame (1999)
Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal for her work in the fight against lupus, breast cancer, AIDS, and hunger (2000)
Outstanding Alumnae by Howard University (2000)
Inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame (2002)
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2006)
Member of the Royal Academy of Music
Awarded France’s Grand Prix du Disque for albums of lieder by Wagner, Schumann, Mahler and Schubert.
Won Amsterdam’s Edison Award; and recording honors in Belgium, Spain, and Germany.
She was winner of an Ace Award from the National Cable Television Association for “Jessye Norman at Notre Dame.”
2009 National Medal of Arts presented by President Barack Obama in a ceremony at The White House in February 2010.
2011 Honorary Doctorate Degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and Northwestern University in June 2011.
Jessye Norman has received honorary doctorates from more than 30 colleges, universities, and conservatories including Jesus College, Cambridge, the Manhattan School of Music, University of Michigan, Yale University, Northwestern University and Brandeis University.
2013 Spingarn Award from the NAACP.
2015 Wolf Prize in Arts (with Murray Perahia)
2018 12th Glenn Gould Prize from the Glenn Gould Foundation
2018 Royal Philharmonic Society Gold Medal

Fast Facts You Need to Know

  • Norman died from septic shock and organ failure at a New York hospital 
  • She suffered from complications due to a spinal cord injury sustained in 2015 
  • Norman won four Grammy Awards and the National Medal of Arts