Jessye Norman on Learning to Stand Up and Sing

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Opera singer Jessye Norman talks about her childhood and her career in music. As a child she sung in church, but when she saw a documentary about the legendary Marian Anderson, Norman realize that singing could be a profession. She discusses her meteoric rise at the Berlin Opera, long-delayed debut at the Metropolitan Opera, and her forays into spirituals, blues, jazz, and other roots music. Her memoir Stand Up Straight and Sing! is an inspiring account of her life.

In her book Miss Norman writes about her love of Wagner’s operas, which are central to her repertoire, and Leonard said that Wagner may not have been t happy seeing her performing his works because of his ideas about race. “Yes, but that doesn’t disturb me. If I were not able to separate the art from the artists, I think I would limit myself a great deal, and life wouldn’t be nearly as interesting,” she said. “I don’t feel that Wagner needs me, as I always say, to stand up for him. But we understand that his music was appropriated in WWII for reasons that we know. And the person that he was was certainly not an open-hearted human being, but, of course, we know that the music itself was sublime.”


Jessye Norman

Comments [5]

antonio from baySide

Yes, this one was hearkened to the infamous 'jerry lewis' interview...
Close, but not quite.

Bravo Leonard!

May. 07 2014 01:12 PM

Leonard, you handled yourself with grace in the face of such haughtiness. Well done. Earned to not, arrogance is unattractive.

May. 07 2014 06:53 AM
Bob from New York

Great voice, huge talent but, whoa, talk about being affected. When you look up the word 'diva' in the dictionary you see a picture of Ms. Norman.

May. 06 2014 02:02 PM
Kevin from NYC

Ms. Norman has made treasured and definitive recordings of Strauss, especially the Four Last Songs. Can you tell us some of your own favorite recordings - and any recordings for those people who are not yet familiar with your (wonderful!) voice?

May. 06 2014 01:54 PM
connie mcgovern from traverse city, michigan

my son, Todd McGovern calls me when someone who is to interviewed on your show, is someone I like.
thank you. I LOVE JESSE NORMAN!!!!

May. 06 2014 01:54 PM

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