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Jessye Mae Norman (born September 15, 1945) is an American Grammy award-winning contemporary opera singer and recitalist, and is a successful performer of classical music. A dramatic soprano, Norman is associated in particular with the Wagnerian repertoire, and with the roles of Sieglinde, Ariadne, Alceste, and Leonore. Among other honors, Norman has been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and is a Spingarn Medalist.


Norman was born in Augusta, Georgia, to Silas Norman, an insurance salesman, and Janie King-Norman, a school teacher. 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 heard opera for the first time on the radio and was immediately a fan. Norman started listening to recordings of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price whom Norman credits as being inspiring figures in her career. At the age of 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, Norman 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 32 other female students and 4 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 graduat

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Jessye Norman Latest News

'Simply breath-taking!' Legendary soprano Jessye Norman wins Glenn Gould Prize

American soprano legend Jessye Norman, known for her powerful, versatile voice and her celebrated turns in Wagnerian operas, is the latest winner of the $100,000 Glenn Gould Prize. Despite an impressive list of nominees, "we were united in our admiration ...
Posted: April 13, 2018, 10:11 am

Ticket to opera turns into Laquita Mitchell’s inspiration to sing

Meeting Jessye Norman sealed Laquita Mitchell’s fate. Norman bought Mitchell a ticket to her performance in Richard Wagner’s “Die Walkure” at the Metropolitan Opera House. “I saw my first opera when I was 14,” said Mitchell, who plays Coretta ...
Posted: May 16, 2018, 8:00 am

Soprano Jessye Norman awarded Royal Philharmonic Society gold medal at a star-studded ceremony

The legendary American soprano was honoured at the 2018 RPS Music Awards, where this year's winners included conductor Vladimir Jurowski, pianist Igor Levit, the London Symphony Orchestra and The Sixteen American soprano Jessye Norman was awarded the Royal ...
Posted: May 10, 2018, 8:30 am
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