International opera star Jessye Norman, who performed at Symphony Hall in 1991, has died at the age of 74.
A statement from the family said she died from septic shock and multi-organ failure secondary to complications of a spinal cord injury she sustained in 2015.
We are so proud of Jessye’s musical achievements and the inspiration that she provided to audiences around the world that will continue to be a source of joy. We are equally proud of her humanitarian endeavors addressing matters such as hunger, homelessness, youth development, and arts and culture educationSpokeswoman Gwendolyn Quinn, on behalf of Jessye Nelson's family
Jessye's portait adorns the wall in Symphony Hall's Directors Lounge.
She was painted by Norman Perryman, who has painted the biggest stars of the classical music world. Following her performance at the world-renowned Birmingham concert hall, Jessye Norman sat for an hour signing prints of her painting for admirers.
Grammy-award winner Jessye Norman was a trailblazing performer, and one of the rare black singers to attain worldwide stardom in the opera world, performing at such revered houses as La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera, and singing title roles in works like Carmen, Aida and more.
She sang the works of Wagner, but was not limited to opera or classical music, performing songs by Duke Ellington and others as well.
Norman was born on September 15 1945 in Augusta, Georgia, in segregationist times.
She grew up singing in church and around a musical family that included pianists and singers, and earned a scholarship to the historically black college Howard University in Washington DC, to study music, and later studied at Peabody Conservatory and the University of Michigan.
She made her operatic debut in 1969 in Berlin, wowing audiences around the world on stages in Milan, London and New York thanks to her shining vocals, no matter the language.
The New York Times described her voice as “a grand mansion of sound”.