Jessye Norman, the renowned international opera star, who won four Grammy awards and the national medal of arts with her passionate soprano voice and trailblazing performances, has died aged 74.
Norman was and one of the rare black singers to attain worldwide stardom in the opera world. She also gave back, raising funds to help students attend school, championing the arts in schools and championing diversity.
Writers, artists, filmmakers, leaders and many others have paid tribute to the author of ‘Beloved’, and spoken of her importance to them.
Her family said she suffered septic shock and multi-organ failure secondary to complications of a spinal cord injury she sustained in 2015.
She passed away at Mount Sinai St Luke’s Hospital in New York, and was surrounded by loved ones, according to a statement from the family on Monday.
“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, the statement read.
“We are equally proud of her humanitarian endeavours addressing matters such as hunger, homelessness, youth development, and arts and culture education.”
Born on 15 September 1945, Norman grew up in a family of amateur artists and sang in church from the age of four. She earned a scholarship to study music at the historically black college Howard University in Washington DC before going on to the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Michigan.
One report says, She made her operatic debut in 1969 in Berlin, wowing audiences around the world on stages in Milan, London and New York. Thanks to her shining vocals, no matter the language.
She established herself in Europe in the 1970s and made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1983.
The Met Opera called Norman “one of the great sopranos of the past half-century”.
They said, “Starting with her Met debut……Norman sang more than 80 performances with the company, dazzling audiences with her beautiful tone, extraordinary power, and musical sensitivity.”
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