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Opera Icon Jessye Norman

Opera legend Jessye Norman and her new memoir of growing up black in the segregated South and taking the world stage with her song.

Jessye Norman performs during The Dream Concert at Radio City Music Hall Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007 in New York. (AP)

Jessye Norman performs during The Dream Concert at Radio City Music Hall Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2007 in New York. (AP)

Opera great Jessye Norman grew up African American in Augusta, Georgia in the days of full-on Jim Crow segregation.  And soared to the greatest heights of the opera world.  Wagner, Verdi, Bizet, Strauss.  The great halls of Europe and America and beyond.  Sung for presidents and royalty, and for the people who raised her up.  Inspired her.  Marian Anderson.  Rosa Parks.  Maya Angelou.  Duke Ellington.  This hour On Point:  a conversation with the great Jessye Norman on art, voice, and life.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Jessye Norman, Grammy-, Kennedy Center – and National Medal the of the Arts-Award winning opera singer. Author of the new book, “Stand Up Straight and Sing!”

From Tom’s Reading List

NPR: The ‘Marvelous Living’ Of Soprano Jessye Norman — “When it comes to singers, there have been few voices considered as majestic as soprano Jessye Norman’s. The celebrated opera singer from Augusta, Ga. has meticulously built a career on her own terms, choosing her projects intelligently and carefully guarding her vocal resources, which have often been described as a force of nature.”

The Wall Street Journal: Book Review: ‘Stand Up Straight and Sing!’ by Jessye Norman & ‘Lifting My Voice’ by Barbara Hendricks — ” The best parts of Ms. Norman’s book are her lyrical evocations of her early life in Augusta, Ga. She builds a rich portrait of a childhood firmly grounded by family, church and community. Loving but demanding parents and a large extended family supplied both nurturing (the description of the bounty of her grandparents’ farm is positively edenic) and high expectations.”

Chicago Sun-Times: Jessye Norman finds her literary voice — “Famed opera singer Jessye Norman was approached in recent years about being featured in two potential books — a coffee-table tome with slick photographs of her career highlights and another with notables paying tribute to her. She was underwhelmed by the first idea, and the second she found ‘too embarrassing.’”

Read An Excerpt From “Stand Up Straight And Sing” By Jessye Norman

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