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Jessye Norman


A prominent American soprano, Jessye Norman was the child of the schoolteacher and an insurance professional. She started performing spirituals at age four at Support Calvary Baptist Chapel; one Sunday while performing her tasks she noticed an opera for the very first time, broadcast on the air. She became an instantaneous opera lover and started hearing recordings of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Cost. Nat “Ruler” Cole was also a significant inspiration on her behalf. When she was 16, she began their studies at Howard University or college in Washington, where her tone of voice instructor was Carolyn Give. She sang within the university or college chorus and experienced employment as soloist the Lincoln Temple United Chapel of Christ. In 1965 she received the National Culture of Arts and Characters performing competition. She continuing her research at Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, with the University or college of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where her most significant studies had been with Elizabeth Mannion and Pierre Bernac. In 1968 she received the Munich Competition, resulting in her operatic debut as Elisabeth in Wagner’s Tannhäconsumer in Berlin. A significant European operatic profession quickly created: she made an appearance as Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine at Maggio Musicale in Florence in 1971, Verdi’s Aïda at La Scala in Milan in 1972, so when Cassandra in Berlioz’s Les Troyens at London’s Covent Backyard the same calendar year. These roles are princesses and bespeak a significant section of her stage persona, a commanding and commendable bearing, partly because of her uncommon elevation and size. But that is a lot more a function of her exclusive, rich, and effective voice. She’s an uncommonly wide variety, encompassing all feminine tone of voice registers from contralto to high dramatic soprano. As her operatic profession created, she also produced essential recital debuts, including London and NY in 1973. She produced an extensive UNITED STATES concert debut in 1976 and 1977, but didn’t come in opera in america until 1982. This is using the Opera Firm of Philadelphia, within a dual costs as Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Queen Jocasta in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex. Her Metropolitan Opera debut was as Cassandra in 1983, the starting nights the Met’s centennial time of year. Her interpretation of Strauss’s Four Last Tracks is famous. Its slowness is definitely controversial, however the tonal characteristics of her tone of voice are perfect for these last works of the fantastic Passionate German lieder custom. She also sings the Gurrelieder of Arnold Schoenberg, as well as the same composer’s Erwartung. She sang that opera on the memorable dual bill in the Met with Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, that was transmit nationally. She’s also made an appearance on live broadcasts of season-opening concerts of the brand new York Philharmonic. As well as the immediate and psychologically expressive characteristics of her performing, her shows also make an impression through formidable intellectual knowledge of the music and its own style, in addition to first-rate musicianship. She research the languages from the music she sings, and it has been acclaimed in her performing of Mussorgsky music in the initial Russian, within the German Intimate lieder repertoire, and in French music from Berlioz to modern composers.

Quick Facts

Full Name Jessye Norman
Height 1.85 m
Profession Actor, Opera Singer
Education A. R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School, Howard University, University of Michigan
Nationality American
Parents Silas Norman, Janie King-Norman
Awards Kennedy Center Honors, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Wolf Prize in Arts, Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording, Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album
Music Songs O Divine Redeemer, The Holy City, Je te veux, With a Song in My Heart, Zueignung, Op.10 No.1, Morgen, Op. 27, No. 4, Let Us Break Bread Together, Give Me Jesus, Sanctus, Cäcilie, Op. 27, No. 2, Sweet Little Jesus Boy, I Wonder As I Wander, Ave Maria, Gospel Train, Mary Had a Baby, Chanson triste, I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray, Dich, teure Halle, Les Chemins De L'Amour, Es gibt ein Reich, African Drum Invocation, Le nozze di Figaro: Porgi, amor, Wiegenlied, Op. 41, No. 1, Ride on, King Jesus, Tristan und Isolde: Isoldes Liebestod, I Was Born in Love With You, I Want Two Wings, Oh What a Beautiful City, Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro / Act 2 - "Porgi amor", Scandalize My Name, He's Got the Whole World in His Hand, Love Is Here to Stay
Albums Spirituals in Concert, Richard Strauss Vier Letzte Lieder, Roots - My Life, My Song, Sacred Songs, Il Corsaro (New Philharmonia Orchestra feat. conductor: Lamberto Gardelli), R. Strauss: Four Last Songs; 6 Orchestral Songs, Wagner: Die Walkure, Lieder, Orchestral Songs, Between Love And Loss (Set), Salzburg Recital, Dido and Aeneas (English Chamber Orchestra feat. conductor: Raymond Leppard), Bartok: Bluebeard's Castle, The Compact Opera Collection: Carmen, Tannhäuser / Siegfried Idyll / Tristan und Isolde, Les Chemins de l'amour, Spirituals, Das Festkonzert zur Weihnachtszeit: Ein großer Abend aus Notre-Dame, With a Song in My Heart, An Evening with Jessye Norman, Jessye Norman Live, Weber: Euryanthe, Les Plus Beaux Ave Maria et Chants Sacrés, Lucky To Be Me, Symphonie No. 3 d-moll (Wiener Philharmoniker, Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor, Wiener Sängerknaben feat. conductor: Claudio Abbado, contralto: Jessye Norman), Sinfonía n° 9, Beethoven: Fidelio (1989), Live at Hohenems & Salzburg (2 CDs), Meyerbeer: L'Africana, Die Walküre, Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 "Choral", Mahler: Songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn & Rückert-Lieder / Schubert: Lieder, Brahms: Lieder, Richard Strauss: Salome, Berg: Seven Early Songs, Symphony No. 4 / Ein Deutsches Requiem / Schicksalslied (Eugen Jochum, Jessye Norman, Jorma Hynninen, feat. conductor: Klaus Tennstedt), Lieder (soprano: Jessye Norman, piano: Daniel Barenboim), Les nuits d'été - La mort de Cléopâtre, Last Night of the Proms, La Belle Hélène (Chœurs et Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse feat. conductor: Michel Plasson), Bizet: Carmen (1988), Schumann: Frauenliebe und -leben; Liederkreis, Op.39, Richard Strauss: Four Last Songs / Wagner: Wesendonk Lieder, Das Lied von der Erde, In the Spirit, The Essential Jessye Norman, Amazing Grace, Alceste, Schoenberg: Erwartung; Cabaret Songs, In fernem Land, Wagner; Lohengrin, Chausson: Poème de l'amour et de la mer; Chanson perpétuelle; Mélodies - Apex
Nominations Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work - Biography / Auto-biography
Movies Jessye Norman: A Portrait, The People's Passion, Symphony for the Spire, Vangelis: Mythodea - Music for the NASA Mission, 2001 Mars Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, Verdi: Requiem: Claudio Abbado

  • Facts
  • Filmography
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1 She was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts on February 25, 2010 at the White House in Washington D.C. for her services and contributions to music.
2 She was awarded an honorary doctorate for her services to music from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the 1998 Commencement Ceremonies.



Christmas Glory from New York 2001 TV Movie Soprano
Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child 2000 TV Series Thunder Mountain Woman
The People's Passion 1999 TV Movie Narrator
Margie Gillis: Wild Hearts in Strange Times 1996
Great Performances 1993 TV Series Jocasta
Die Walküre 1990 TV Movie Sieglinde
The Metropolitan Opera Presents 1983-1988 TV Series Ariadne / Primadonna / Madame Lidoine / ...



Restless City 2011 performer: "Four Last Songs - Im Abendrot" written by nm0006309
Choke 2008 performer: "Padre, Germani, Addio! - Ilia, Idamente"
The Hours 2002 performer: "Beim Schlafengehen"
Artemisia 1997 TV Movie documentary performer: "Morgen"
Wild at Heart 1990 performer: "Im Abendrot"
Romeo 1990 performer: "Wiegenlied" Berceuse
La révolution française 1989 performer: "Hymne à la Liberté"
Distant Voices, Still Lives 1988 performer: "There's a Man Goin' Round" - uncredited



C à vous 2015 TV Series Herself
Imagine 2015 TV Series documentary Herself
CNBC Meets 2015 TV Series documentary
Vivement dimanche prochain 2015 TV Series Herself
Late Show with David Letterman 1994-2014 TV Series Herself / Herself - Musical Guest
Proms Extra 2014 TV Series Herself
Katie 2014 TV Series Herself - Opera Singer
Tavis Smiley 2011 TV Series Herself
Willkommen bei Carmen Nebel 2009 TV Series Herself
Beckmann 2009 TV Series Herself
Karsh Is History 2009 TV Movie documentary Herself
Absolute Wilson 2006 Documentary Herself
Wetten, dass..? 2006 TV Series Herself
Great Performances 2003 TV Series Himself
Nobel Peace Prize Concert 2002 TV Special documentary Herself
Im Herzen des Lichts - Die Nacht der Primadonnen 2002 TV Movie documentary Herself
Vangelis: Mythodea - Music for the NASA Mission, 2001 Mars Odyssey 2001 Video Herself - Lead Singer
Charlie Rose 2000-2001 TV Series Herself - Guest
To Life! America Celebrates Israel's 50th 1998 TV Special Herself
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts 1997 TV Special Herself - Honoree
The 39th Annual Grammy Awards 1997 TV Special Herself
Les enfants de la guerre 1996 TV Movie Herself
The Metropolitan Opera Presents 1996 TV Series Herself
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts 1995 TV Special Herself
Boulevard Bio 1993 TV Series Herself
Symphony for the Spire 1992 Documentary Soprano
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 1992 TV Movie Herself
Jessye Norman at Notre Dame 1991 TV Movie Herself
Marian Anderson 1991 TV Movie Herself
Tchaikovsky: 150th Birthday Gala from Leningrad 1990 TV Special documentary Soprano
Omnibus 1986-1989 TV Series documentary Herself
Jessye Norman Sings Carmen 1989 Documentary Carmen
Karajan in Salzburg 1988 TV Special Wagner Concert
Freedomfest: Nelson Mandela's 70th Birthday Celebratation 1988 TV Special documentary Herself
Jessye Norman's Christmas Symphony 1987 TV Special documentary Soloist
Carnegie Hall: The Grand Reopening 1987 TV Movie Herself
Jessye Norman Recital 1986 TV Movie Herself - Soprano
Ozawa 1985 TV Movie documentary Herself
The 5th Annual Black Achievement Awards 1984 TV Special Herself
The Metropolitan Opera: Centennial Gala 1983 TV Special Herself
The South Bank Show 1979 TV Series documentary Herself
Le grand échiquier 1974 TV Series Herself

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1993 CableACE CableACE Awards Performance in a Music Special or Series Jessye Norman at Notre Dame (1991)

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1 [on her memoir 'Stand Up Straight and Sing'] I've made a lot of commencement speeches, 'yes, do get on with our lives and be really be good citizens' kinds of speeches. But what I really wanted to do with this book was to talk about the nurturing and nourishing that is needed - not just by people who go into the performing arts - but by all off us.
2 I would like to go to symphony orchestras in [America] and see the orchestra look more like the demographics that they're meant to serve. I would like to see more African-American singers as part of our opera companies.n
3 What I find today is that students, whether they are instrumentalists or singers, are so glued to the page, so glued to notes, they don't get that within all of that they need to make music.
4 There is a lot of propaganda about opera singers not being able to act. That's not necessarily true and hasn't been true for a long time. And certainly, there are those instances when singers were told they need to fit into a certain size dress. Of course, women. Men? They just make the costumes bigger.
5 [on what is on her mind whilst performing] I think about the words, I think about the characters. I think what a pleasure it is to sing some of the text that I have. I am so grateful to to be saying those words, they're so beautiful.

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