WXXI AM News

Jessye Norman remembered for helping people in Rochester

Oct 2, 2019

Credit rochester.edu

A renowned opera star who died this week is being remembered around the world for her passionate and powerful singing. 

Whether it was opera, spirituals, or popular music, there were many accolades through the years for Norman’s musical abilities.

But her brother, James Norman, a former longtime leader of Action for a Better Community in Rochester hopes that his sister is also remembered for her commitment to helping people lead better lives.

“Meals on Wheels, AIDS Foundation, Coalition for the Homeless and she was on the board for Howard University, so she had another part of her life giving back and being a humanitarian in addition to just singing,” Norman said.

James Norman had brought his sister to Rochester several times over the years, as she performed at fundraisers for Action for a Better Community.

And Norman notes that Jessye also had a long association with the Girl Scouts.

“She used to travel around with an extra suitcase full of girl scout cookies and of course...you had to buy cookies.”

Norman says his sister helped promote diversity during her career in music.

“Certainly over her long career which started in 1969 she was one of the people who helped pave the way for opportunities for other musicians of color in this country.”

Norman says his sister also  was concerned about making sure there was enough emphasis on arts and culture education in public schools. She helped establish the Jessye Norman School of the Arts in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia.