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RIP Jessye Norman — Legendary Opera Singer Dead At 74

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How Did Jessye Norman Die? New Details On Death Of Legendary Opera Singer At 74

The world of music has been reeling over the recent death of Jessye Norman, the acclaimed American soprano who captivated opera stages across the globe.

The Georgia native, who passed away on September 30, is mostly remembered for her sultry timbre. She launched her amazing career in Berlin. From there, she performed for wider audiences, at more prestigious venues, events, concerts, so on and so forth; and the rest is history.

What some don’t know about her is that she was closely in tune with her roots, giving back to her hometown in every way possible.

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As a result, many in the Augusta community regard her as a larger than life figure and a force to be reckoned with. If you ever step foot in this city, you may be greeted by Jessye Norman School of the Arts, the school and amphitheater where she educated and helped children find their passion in music.

How did Jessye Norman die?

1. Jessye Norman was a multiple Grammy Award winner who dominated operatic, recital and concert stages.

Norman is an internationally renowned soprano who, not surprisingly, has received many honors and accolades.

A graduate of Howard University with a degree in music, she’s mostly hailed for her leading role in "Aida," a well-known opera in four acts by composer Giuseppe Verdi; however, she’s had many roles at the Metropolitan Opera and houses around the world.

For her artistry and powerhouse voice, she received the prestigious Kennedy Center Honor, National Medal of Arts and four Grammys.

2. The 74-year-old singer passed away from septic shock and multiple organ failure.

According to a statement issued by her family, her death stemmed from complications of her spinal cord injury, which happened iin 2015.

3. Her career began in the late 1960s, taking full-force in the 1980s.

Norman cultivated her careerin the late 1960s with her title role in “Aida,” and subsequent roles including Wagner’s heroines, and characters in Janacek, Poulenc, Bartok and Strauss operas.

Her crowning moment though was her Met debut in 1983, where she performed in “Les Troyens” by Berlioz as Cassandre. Her debut was well received, and Norman later went on to sing more than 80 productions at the Met.

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4. Norman’s music is lauded for being unapologetically black, raw, and powerful.

Norman’s music leverages the power of blackness. Many say her art is two-fold: her voice and presence, as a black woman born in the Jim Crow era, challenge conventional racial boundaries; and her music is black at its core, never created for anyone else.

In an opinion piece on CNN, she is revered for defending herself against judges of the Bavarian Radio International Music Competition in 1968 who she felt were discriminatory; and this instance just scratches the surface of her courage.

5. She found inspiration in other great pioneering black artists for their resilience and talent.

In a 1983 interview with The New York Times, Norman attributed her success to the work and hustle of the black artists before her, mentioning singers like Marian Anderson, Dorothy Maynor, and Leontyne Price, among others.

She stated the following: “They have made it possible for me to say, ‘I will sing French opera,’ or, ‘I will sing German opera,’ instead of being told, ‘You will sing 'Porgy and Bess.' Look, it’s unrealistic to pretend that racial prejudice doesn’t exist. It does! It’s one thing to have a set of laws, and quite another to change the hearts and minds of men. That takes longer. I do not consider my blackness a problem. I think it looks rather nice.”

6. In response to her death, many are honoring her legacy via social media.

Family, friends, and fans are mourning the loss of the powerhouse singer, taking to social media to celebrate her impact.

Various editors and writers at top-tier media outlets have shared her role in their lives, while others have posted personal tweets and statements.

Undoubtedly, Jessye Norman had a profound life, and her memory will live on.

Rest in Peace, Jessye Norman.

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Dominique McIntee is a NYC-based writer with a moderately interesting life, knack for editing, and passion for content creation on topics ranging from fashion and food to beauty, lifestyle, music and everything in between.