Jessye Norman, the renowned global opera star who won four Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honor for his passionate soprano voice passed away on September 30 at the age of 74, according to family spokesperson Gwendolyn Quinn. A statement was released and it stated that Norman died at 7:54 a.m. EDT due to septic shock and multiple organ failure. She was suffering from a spinal cord injury since 2015. She died at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York and was paid a visit by her loved ones. The family statement read that they are very proud and elated about Jessye's musical achievements. It also read that she provided inspiration to the audiences around the world which will continue to be a source of joy. The last rites and funeral arrangements will be announced by her family in the coming days.
Norman was an outstanding performer and one of the rare black singers to attain worldwide attention in the opera world. She performed at revered houses like La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera. Norman did not believe in any boundaries or limits. She broke the barriers and hoped her industry would see many more similar faces like hers. Norman was born on September 15, 1945, in Augusta, Georgia. She grew up singing in church and around a musical family that included pianists and singers. She got a scholarship opportunity to study music at the historically black college, Howard University in Washington, D.C. and later studied at the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Michigan.
She made her operatic debut in 1969 in Berlin impressing audiences around the world on stages in Milan, London, and New York. Her voice is also described as “a grand mansion of sound.” The Met Opera in a statement called her “one of the great sopranos of the past half-century”. She’s earned 15 Grammy nominations throughout her rewarding career which includes her first the 1985 show for best classical vocal soloist performance for “Ravel: Songs Of Maurice Ravel.” She earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. She also raised funds to help students attend school. The Jessye Norman School of the Arts was opened up in 2003 in Augusta province to provide a free fine arts education to underprivileged children. Augusta opened the Jessye Norman Amphitheater to honor the opera icon in 1990. She released her memoir, “Stand Up Straight and Sing!,” in 2004. She is survived by her two remaining siblings, James Norman, and Elaine Sturkey.
(With inputs from AP)
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