Skip to page content

Jessye Norman

About this Artist

JESSYE NORMAN is “one of those once-in-a-generation singers who is not simply following in the footsteps of others, but is staking out her own niche in the history of singing.” This rich history continues as she brings her sumptuous sound, her joy of singing, and spontaneous passion to recital performances, operatic portrayals, and appearances with symphony orchestras and chamber music collaborators to audiences around the world. The sheer size, power, and luster of her voice share equal acclaim with that of her thoughtful music-making, innovative programming of the classics, and fervent advocacy of contemporary music. Norman’s collaborations with artists on the cutting-edge in their fields, such as Robert Wilson, Andre Heller, Bill T. Jones, Steve McQueen, and Laura Karpman, serve to add new dimensions and exciting new challenges to her work.

The integrity and depth of Norman’s performances were characterized in a New York Times article, stating, “This is an amazing voice, a catalog of all that is virtuous in singing.”

She has been the recipient of many awards. In 1997, she received the United States’ highest award in the performing arts, the Kennedy Center Honor, making history as the youngest recipient in its 20-year existence. Others include honorary doctorates at 35 colleges, universities, and conservatories around the world. In 2006 she became only the fourth opera/classical music singer in the 48-year history of the Grammys to be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

In March 2009, Norman curated a three-week long festival sponsored by Carnegie Hall entitled HONOR! – a celebration of the African American contribution to the legacy of Carnegie Hall and to the cultural mosaic of the world. A centerpiece of the Festival was her collaboration with Laura Karpman on Ask Your Mama, for which the audience “thundered its approval” (The New York Times).

The Jessye Norman School of the Arts in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia, as well as a fellowship and master class series at the University of Michigan in her name, further attest to Norman’s continuing interest in emerging talent. To find out more about the unique programs of study at JNSA, please visit