A Solemn Goodbye
published in Augusta University’s, Bell Ringer Newspaper(10/31/19)
Jessye Norman, a native of Augusta Georgia, impacted the world both musically and philanthropically. A powerhouse, her voice could be said to have been the song of the community. She was gracious, she was skilled and what made her most respected was the love she held in her heart for her community—she loved everyone, but she made sure to advocate especially for the black community.
“I respect her as a worldwide force in the opera world, but I most respect how she didn’t forget where she cane from and gave back to her community, “Deanna Brown-Thomas, daughter of James Brown and Norma’s sorority sister said.
Jessye was well respected for being all of those things and appropriately so. Jessye Norman’s fine arts school was founded in 2003 to provide professional instruction to inner city children, artistically inclined, with high hopes of having careers in the arts. She maintained a great rapport with staff and students, providing as as encouraging voice—restoring them to reach their goals.
Jessye opted for her school’s location, specifically to cater to children of color.
Norman once said, “I would like to see more African American singers as part of our opera companies. If you take music and the arts out of public schools, then you’re going to lose a lot of people that you might have discovered were talented, very early.”
Mary Ella, a student at Jessye Norman School of Arts said, “She was a role model to me.” Ms. Norman showed Couth and decorum, and was never rude.”
“She was nice, and sang beautifully,” she added.
Jessye Norman embodied a spirit as beautiful as her voice. She wasn’t afraid to love, teach or share the gift of art. She left a great legacy to continue.
In the words of late Jessye Norman, “It takes a caring community to raise a child that will be a whole person and contributing citizen.”