[ Thanks to Jonno for the reminder ] :
Jessye Norman was born in Augusta, Georgia on September 15th in 1945. She grew up in the kind of family that encourages children to go to college. Her father Silas was an insurance broker and died in 1979. Her mother, Janie King Norman, worked as a secretary for the Democratic Party and also as auditor for the church. Jessye Norman and her four siblings lived in a happy and financially secure family, which gave her support. She describes her parents as "looking after all of us and working as hard as they could to make certain all of us got an education" . They gave that motivation further to their children who were expected to do well at their work. Music was an intergral part of their lives, as Jessye Norman says, it was "as natural as breathing" . She started singing at the young age of two. At four she started singing in churches and actually had a whole repertoire then. Her earliest inspiration was Marian Anderson, a great contralto, singing Brahms "Alto Rhapsody" on the radio. Role models for her adult career were Leontyne Price and Joan Sutherland.
My Uncle Ernest is a big fan of Jessye. He loves her almost as much as he worships Marian Anderson. I was fortunate enough to catch her during a benefit performance for Balm In Gilead (the "official" link is busted as of this writing) back in 1996.
I'm lazy, so I won't hack a list of Jessye links.
Posted by ronn at September 15, 2002 11:07 PM