Thursday Open Thread | Black Opera Singers Week | Jessye Norman

Hope you’re enjoying the sweet singing style of Ms. Jessye Norman.



Wiki:  Jessye Mae Norman (born September 15, 1945) is an American[1]Grammy award-winning contemporary opera singer and recitalist, and is a successful performer of classical music.[2] A dramatic soprano, Norman is associated in particular with the Wagnerian repertoire, and with the roles of Sieglinde, Ariadne, Alceste, and Leonore.[3]

Early life and musical education[edit]

Norman was born in Augusta, Georgia, to Silas Norman, an insurance salesman, and Janie King-Norman, a school teacher.[4] She was one of five children in a family of amateur musicians; her mother and grandmother were both pianists, her father a singer in a local choir. Norman’s mother insisted that she start piano lessons at an early age.[2] Norman attended Charles T. Walker Elementary School, A.R. Johnson Junior High School, and Lucy C. Laney Senior High School, all in downtown Augusta.[3]

Norman proved to be a talented singer as a young child, singing gospel songs at Mount Calvary Baptist Church at the age of four.[4] At the age of nine, Norman heard opera for the first time on the radio and was immediately an opera fan.[5] She started listening to recordings of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price whom Norman credits as being inspiring figures in her career.[4] At the age of 16, Norman entered the Marian Anderson Vocal Competition in Philadelphia which, although she did not win, led to an offer of a full scholarship at Howard University, in Washington, D.C.[6] While at Howard, Norman sang in the university chorus and as a professional soloist at the Lincoln Temple United Church of Christ, while studying voice with Carolyn Grant. In 1965, along with 32 other female students and 4 female faculty, she became a founding member of the Delta Nu Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota. In 1966, she won the National Society of Arts and Letters singing competition.[7] After graduating in 1967 with a degree in music, she began graduate-level studies at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and later at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, from which she earned a Masters Degree in 1968. During this time Norman studied voice with Elizabeth Mannion and Pierre Bernac.[5]


On March 11, 2002, Norman performed “America the Beautiful” at a memorial service unveiling two monumental columns of light at the site of the former World Trade Center, as a memorial for the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City.[6] In 2002 she returned to Augusta to announce that she would fund a pilot school of the arts for children in Richmond County. Classes commenced at St. John United Methodist Church in the fall of 2003. In November 2004, a documentary of Miss Norman’s life and work to date, was created. This film, directed by André Heller, with Othmar Schmiderer as director of photography and produced by DOR-Film of Vienna, chronicles the music, the social and political issues, the inspiration and dreams that have combined to make this singer unique in her profession.[13] In 2006, Norman collaborated with the modern dance choreographer, Trey McIntyre, for a special performance during the summer at the Vail, Colorado Dance Festival.[2]


Jessye Norman Academy of Achievement (Full Interview) 2012

jessye-norman Jessye-Norman-3-grande

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35 Responses to Thursday Open Thread | Black Opera Singers Week | Jessye Norman

  1. rikyrah says:

    If Brazil and Turkey Can Go Up in Flames, Then Anywhere Can
    By Kojo Koram · June 26,2013

    Back in 2011 when the Arab world exploded with popular uprisings, the Western media’s first response was confusion. Was this a good or bad thing? The media appeared paralysed in the face of these developments which did not conform to the stereo type of the Barbarian Arab Jihadists we’ve been used to for the past decade. To boot, Tunisian president Ben Ali and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak were Western allies, strongmen who could control their unruly populations for us. Should we have been celebrating their removal?

    Eventually a narrative began to emerge which wouldn’t be too disruptive to our collective worldview: the Arabs now wanted to be like us. They had seen how awesome it was to be Western, and now wanted the same lives we had. The common re-labelling of the Arab Spring as ‘the Facebook revolutions‘ not only over emphasized the role that these Western social media sites had played in these revolutions but also meant that these events could be retold in a way in which the powers-that-be still had control. The idea of revolution, of popular uprising is always a uncomfortable one when you are the global hegemon. The U.S.A, a country itself borne of revolution, has historical seen the only legitimate anti-government action in other countries to be when foreigners are calling to remake their state in the American image.

    In the last month, popular mass protests have erupted in the streets of Brazil and Turkey in a manner that was not predicted by the same experts wrong-footed by the Arab Spring’s arrival. Of all the countries outside the Euro-American nexus, Brazil and Turkey are two nations that were supposed to be filed under ‘already sorted’. They are not repressive dictatorships in which the people’s frustrated desires for a Big Mac had finally driven them into the streets. They are both free-market capitalist democracies. In fact as Europe and America has been drowning in the post-2008 recession, Brazil and Turkey have been going through golden periods, at least according to the standard economic indicators. The Turkish economy grew 11% in the first six months of 2010 making it the country in OECD with the biggest growth. This was after a decade long boom which led to Turkey being hailed as an ‘economic miracle’ and with its secular tradition, it was held up as the role model for Islamic democracies across the world to copy. And Brazil, a country on the verge of the most elusive of developing nations dreams, has been on route to attaining a Cinderella transformation from third-world nation to economic and political superpower. PricewaterhouseCooper has even predicted that Brazil will overtake the U.S and U.K in GDP by 2050. Brazil was supposed to be excitedly preparing for her coming-out party, the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic games, events which would not only show her rich culture to the world but also evidence the country’s technological and administrative capabilities. It would join the mighty U.S.A, the only other country to have staged back-to-back World Cups and Olympic Games.

    However, against such an optimistic backdrop, riots and occupations have suddenly become the main news coming out of these ‘success story’ countries, leaving the West to ask: “what are the protestors complaining about?”

  2. rikyrah says:

    If #VRA had no effect, how come @GovernorPerry signed in redistricting day after #ShelbyvHolder… …

  3. rikyrah says:

    woody45 •

    “”no I’m not going to be scrambling jets for a 29 year old hacker.”

    And he paused before he said hacker. In one sentence PBO reduced Snowden to a footnote. The victory tour is over.

  4. rikyrah says:

    Hernandez probed in two drive-by killings last year, sources say

    By Richard Esposito and Erin McClam, NBC News

    Authorities are investigating whether Aaron Hernandez, the NFL star accused of murder in the recent shooting death of a friend, was involved in the drive-by killings of two men last year, sources told NBC News on Thursday.

    The men, Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado, were shot to death from an SUV on July 16, 2012, after leaving a Boston nightclub. Police put out a description of the SUV but never made an arrest. A third person was shot and survived.

    Suffolk County prosecutors said Thursday that the investigation was active but declined comment on whether Hernandez was involved.

    Hernandez was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in the execution-style killing earlier this month of Odin Lloyd, whose body was discovered in an industrial park not far from Hernandez’s home. Hernandez, an All-Pro tight end, was released by the New England Patriots after his arrest.

  5. CarolMaeWY says:

    I am loving the music and voice of Jessye Norman.

  6. rikyrah says:

    Pelosi mulling ‘John Lewis Voting Rights Act’ to overturn Supreme Court decision
    By David Ferguson
    Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:14 EDT

    Former Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Wednesday that Congressional Democrats are planning new legislation to render ineffective Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision on Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the historic 1965 legislation that guaranteed equal access to the vote for all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity. According to The Hill, Pelosi is already considering naming the prospective bill after civil rights icon and Georgia Rep. John Lewis (D).

    “It’s really a step backward, and it’s not a reflection of what’s really happening in our country in some of these places,” Pelosi said of Tuesday’s decision, in which a 5-to-4 majority ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. Section 4 established a metric for states that have discriminated racially in the past, qualifying them for Section 5, which mandates that these states receive clearance from the federal government before making changes to election law.

    “I would like to see something…called the John Lewis Voting Rights Act,” she continued, saying that Congress could follow Chief Justice Roberts’ recommendation and re-write Section 4′s criteria.

    Democrats would be joined in that effort by at least three Republican congressman, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI), who was instrumental to the push to get the VRA renewed in 2006, has pledged to push back against the decision.

    “The Voting Rights Act is vital to America’s commitment to never again permit racial prejudices in the electoral process,” Senenbrenner said to The Hill. “This is going to take time, and will require members from both sides of the aisle to put partisan politics aside and ensure Americans’ most sacred right is protected.”

  7. rikyrah says:

    Somebody Wants To Be President

    By Charles P. Pierce

    at 10:45AM

    Chris Christie, reasonable conservative Republican, would like the hayshakers in the Iowa megachurches that he has their backs.

    “It’s just another example of judicial supremacy rather than having the government run by the people we actually vote for,” Christie said on his monthly radio show, as quoted by The Star-Ledger. “I thought it was a bad decision.” The Republican said the majority opinion in the case – written by Justice Anthony Kennedy – was an affront to the lawmakers, and former President Bill Clinton, who helped make DOMA the law of the land nearly two decades ago. “I thought that Justice (Anthony) Kennedy’s opinion in many respects was incredibly insulting to those people, 340-some members of Congress who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, and Bill Clinton,” Christie said. “They basically said the only reason to pass that bill was to demean people.”

    Well, no. Clinton signed the bill out of utterly cynical political calculation. As for the rest of them, well, there are some choice nuggets to be mined when one looks back at the tone of the debate over DOMA back in 1996.

    In the 1996 House Judiciary Committee report on DOMA, lawmakers affirmed that “civil laws that permit only heterosexual marriage reflect and honor a collective moral judgment about human sexuality. This judgment entails both moral disapproval of homosexuality and a moral conviction that heterosexuality better comports with traditional (especially Judeo-Christian) morality.”


    Why would anyone think any of this was demeaning?

    Chris Christie is a reasonable alternative only on those rare occasions when half his state is being washed out to sea.

  8. rikyrah says:

    DOMA, Voting Rights and the Bigot’s Last Gasp

    By Oliver Willis · June 26,2013

    Bigotry is dying in America. Unfortunately, it isn’t a quick death. But bigotry, at least as far as institutionalized bigotry enshrined by American law in the most shameful manner, is dying.

    Even as the conservatives on the Supreme Court did their best to defang the Voting Rights Act, the same court came to the logical conclusion that gay Americans cannot be denied humanity at the federal level. The Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Clinton, was a vicious piece of legislation that in retrospect will mark the high water mark of bigotry against Americans at the federal level for some time to come. Any effort to resuscitate it will be defeated, and even conservatives know this.

    The real way you know that bigotry is in its last throes is the rush from southern conservative states to usher in new, restrictive voting laws after the court ruled on the Voting Rights Act. This is last gasp stuff, a kneejerk move made when you’ve got the losing hand but don’t want to admit it.

    We saw this in 2012, when Republicans and conservatives did their best George Wallace impressions, attempting to do their best to limit Democratic-leaning youth and minority votes in key swing states. They did this because they know that their base is dying. It isn’t growing, and the only way to win is to have less people voting. The side effect of this frankly un-American strategy was to motivate the Democratic base vote.

    One of the best cures for voter apathy is a concerted effort to deny access to the ballot box. Many of those voters were motivated by President Obama’s leadership, but it didn’t help that the right’s message to them was “we don’t want you in our America, and we never really did.”

  9. rikyrah says:

    Smartypants @Smartypants32

    Totally rocks!!! => Pelosi mulling ‘John Lewis Voting Rights Act’ to overturn Supreme Court decision | The Raw Story

  10. rikyrah says:

    How The Supreme Court Stomped On Workers’ Rights Today

    By Ian Millhiser on Jun 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Monday was a great day for sexual harassers and for bosses who retaliate against workers claiming discrimination. The rest of us did not fare so well in the Supreme Court. While most Court watchers will likely focus on the narrower-than-expected decision in the Fisher affirmative action case, the most lasting impact of today’s decisions likely will be the twin blows struck against women and minorities in the workplace. Taking advantage of employees just became a whole lot easier.

    The first case, which we previously labeled the “scariest pending Supreme Court case that you’ve probably never heard of” made it significantly easier for many people’s bosses to racially or sexually harass them and get away with it. Though the law provides fairly robust protection to workers harassed by their supervisor, the Court’s 5-4 decision in Vance v. Ball State University defined the term “supervisor” very narrowly. Under today’s decision, your boss is only your “supervisor” if they have the power to make a “significant change in [your] employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.”

    The problem with this definition of the word “supervisor” is that it cuts out many individuals who exercise significant power to direct fellow employees — potentially including the power to intimidate those employees against reporting their actions to their employer — just so long as those individuals don’t actually have the power to fire or demote anyone. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion lists several examples of now-no-longer-supervisors under Vance. One of them is a senior truck driver who coerced a female subordinate into unwanted sex with him. At oral argument, Justice Elena Kagan gave the example of a secretary whose boss “subjects that secretary to living hell, complete hostile work environment on the basis of sex.” Under today’s decision, the secretary’s boss is not her “supervisor” if the power to fire her rests with the “Head of Secretarial Services.” Don Draper can proposition his secretary with near impunity, so long as Joan Harris is the only one empowered to fire her.

  11. rikyrah says:

    Six States Already Moving Forward With Voting Restrictions After Supreme Court Decision

    By Joseph Diebold, Guest Blogger on Jun 27, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Less than 48 hours after the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, six of the nine states that had been covered in their entirety under the law’s “preclearance” formula have already taken steps toward restricting voting.

    In a 5-4 decision, the Court’s five conservative justices ruled Tuesday that the formula, which required states with a history of racial discrimination to “preclear” changes to their voting laws with the Department of Justice or a federal judge before enforcing them, was unconstitutional. Since then, these six states have already started moving on restrictions, many of which have adverse effects on the abilities of minorities, young people, and the poor to exercise their right to vote:

  12. rikyrah says:

    Worth a RT on more good Obamacare news for consumers. Oregon slashes ’14 health insurance premiums by as much as 35%.… …

  13. rikyrah says:

    “There’s something happening here…”

    As regular readers here know, I’ve been talking for awhile now about how what we’re witnessing is the white male patriarchy in its death throes. Yesterday 5 Justices on the Supreme Court were the latest to lash out when they basically issued a ruling that guts the Voting Rights Act.

    What I’ve also been suggesting is that we are in the midst of a third wave of a movement to remedy this country’s original sin of slavery and racism. Of course the first was the Civil War that ended slavery and the second was the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 60’s that ended Jim Crow. In both of those movements white people gave African Americans legal standing. Over the course of the last 50 years, they’ve used those legal rights to raise themselves up. The challenge white people are facing today is that it is finally time to look African Americans (and other people of color) in the eye – face to face as equals. And even occasionally see them as our leaders. That’s not going down real well. And so the dying beast is lashing out.

    All of that came together in this fascinating video by Dr. William Barber II, President of the NC NAACP. I know most people won’t take the time to listen to a 7 1/2 minute video. But you need to watch this and learn how what is happening RIGHT NOW is informed by our history.

  14. rikyrah says:

    At about the moment that New York City marks the five millionth
    recorded time that its police have stopped and frisked someone — most likely an innocent person of color — the City Council passed a policy to severely curtail the practice. In a dramatic 2 a.m. vote Thursday morning, the Council approved measures to create independent oversight of the police force and to give those affected by the practice legal recourse. The police commissioner and Mayor Bloomberg are not happy.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Getting the big picture right

    Here’s a shorter version of what I was trying to say earlier today.

    If you don’t get why images like these scare the bejeesus out of some people…




    …then you are going to completely miss the big picture of what’s going on in this country right now. This is not a repeat of the 1960’s replete with white male hippie-punching – no matter how much some people might want to replay that scene. That’s the big mistake OWS made. They were still caught up in that frame.

    The real battle lines these days have to do with the rising power of the people in these pictures (and the folks they represent). Its literally driving some folks crazy. If you want to understand what’s going on in this country right now – that’s where you have to start or you’ll miss the whole ballgame.

  16. Ametia says:

    A Hard Blow to Tribal Sovereignty

    Update: June 25, 2012, 2pm ET

    The ruling does not necessarily mean that Baby Veronica will be placed back with the Copabianocos. The case is being bounced back to the lower South Carolina court. If it rules to terminate Dusten Brown’s parental rights, the grandparents and the Cherokee Nation may still have a say in the child’s placement.


    In a 5 to 4 decision today, the Supreme Court ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) does not block termination of a Native father’s parental rights. The court appears to have ruled as if it was deciding the issue based on race—when a better lens to understand the case, called Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, is through tribal sovereignty.

    First, some quick background on the case and on ICWA itself (fuller background here). Christy Maldonado gave birth to a baby in 2009 whose father, Dusten Brown, is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Because of self-determination, the Cherokee Nation decides who its citizens are—and because Dusten Brown is Cherokee, his baby, named Veronica, is Cherokee as well. Maldonado and Brown lost touch by the time the baby was born, and Brown was never informed of the baby’s birth. Maldonado decided to put the baby up for adoption, and a white couple named Melanie and Matt Capobianco took Veronica into pre-adoptive care.

    Just to be clear, although the case is called Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the Copabiancos never adopted Veronica. When Brown was served with Maldonado’s intention to place the baby up for adoption, he immediately fought the decision. A South Carolina court agreed that a non-custodial Native father was, indeed a father for the purpose of the case, under ICWA.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Pres. Obama mocks the media’s waste of money searching for #Snowden: “I’m sure there will be a made-for TV movie somewhere down the line.”

  18. rikyrah says:

    The WHPC stays failing….POTUS is in Africa but is asked about everything else…but Africa. SMH.

  19. rikyrah says:

    ‘White House Down’ and Black Presidents on Screen


    Published: June 26, 2013

    At one point in the action thriller “White House Down,” which opens June 28, the president of the United States, played by Jamie Foxx, is trying to thwart a paramilitary group that has overtaken the White House. After swapping his more presidential footwear for basketball shoes, he kicks a bad guy in the face and yells, “Get your hands off my Jordans!”

    It’s not a line many Hollywood versions of the leader of the free world would utter: he (it’s usually a he) is often stuffier, a little bland maybe, and most often white. “White House Down,” directed by Roland Emmerich, doesn’t wear the race of its president on its sleeve, but it doesn’t shy away from the fact either. Before President Obama’s election, Dennis Haysbert set the standard for television presidents with his portrayal of David Palmer on “24.” But memorable black commanders in chief have been harder to come by on the big screen. And as with their real-life counterparts, they get their way only some of the time.

    Speaking Freely

    James Earl Jones in “The Man” (1972)

    In this film, written by Rod Serling from an Irving Wallace novel, the president and the speaker of the house are killed in a building collapse and the vice president has declined to take over, citing ill health. So the job goes to Douglass Dilman (Mr. Jones), the president pro tempore of the Senate. A radio report announces that he’s “the first Negro ever to hold this office.” His decisions on the job are met with opposition, while his own cabinet tries to limit his power. At a news conference, after a black reporter berates him for relying too heavily on notes and prompts from his staff, he ditches those notes and shoots from the hip. Mr. Jones plays the character with both hesitation and hope, but of course the voice of both Darth Vader and CNN sounds presidential in and of itself.

    Comet Fighter

    Morgan Freeman in “Deep Impact” (1998)

    Though Mr. Freeman played the ultimate leader, God, in “Bruce Almighty,” he was commander in chief when fragments from a comet destroy large parts of the material world in “Deep Impact.” He’s a voice of authority and hope as he reads an address in front of the heavily damaged Capitol building, sounding very much like Mr. Obama after some actual natural disasters. Although here, the swelling strings of James Horner’s score add to the heightened emotional stakes.

    Chris Rock in “Head of State.”

    Philip V. Caruso/Dreamworks Pictures

    Chris Rock in “Head of State.”

    Earnest Man of the People

    Chris Rock in “Head of State” (2003)

    The tagline for this comedy directed by and starring Chris Rock tells you much of what you need to know about the film’s tone: “The only thing white is the house.” Mr. Rock’s film dives head first into issues of race related to the presidency and sends them up. Mr. Rock stars as Mays Gilliam, a Washington alderman who is chosen as the party’s presidential candidate after an accident kills the first choice and his running mate. Gilliam initially has little expectation of winning, but is encouraged by his brother (Bernie Mac) to speak his mind on the issues. That leads to sermon-style speeches on the failure of the education system and corporate greed: “You show up to get your pension. They give you a pen.” The honesty Gilliam brings to the race and the public’s interest in change results in his winning the election.

  20. rikyrah says:

    The First Family in Senegal post has been updated with more pics

  21. rikyrah says:

    I dunno where you’d use this gif, but I thought it was hilarious

  22. Ametia says:


    President Barack Obama said the United States is going to use “well-established” channels to resolve the situation of Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker who is evading U.S. authorities. But the president, speaking at a press conference in Senegal, said, “I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.”

    Snowden, the former National Security Agency computer contractor who spilled details of U.S. surveillance programs to reporters, flew to Russia from Hong Kong after American authorities sought his extradition on espionage charges. He is believed to be holed up at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. He has requested asylum in Ecuador.

  23. Ametia says:

    Jonathan Capehart sat on the Murdring Joke panel this morning, and let Joe Scarborough tell the audience that blacks and minorities were responsbile for gettingprop 8 passed in 2008. SMGDH.

  24. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! :-)

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