Stand Up Straight and Sing!

A true diva is a distinguished female opera singer who strives for the best in her own work and expects the same from everyone with whom she works in order to create a marvelous experience for an audience. Jessye Norman is the full embodiment of a diva on stage and off, always striving for the best in life and art. In the introduction James Levine, operatic and symphonic conductor, verifies that this is not a ghost written autobiography, but is definitely in the author’s own words because no one else could do it better than Jessye Norman.

Jessye Norman grew up in a loving, cohesive African-American community in Georgia. Her early life was rich in family, loving support, discipline, high expectations, the church, and a home where music and song were part of everyday life. Her goal was to be a doctor, but fate and Mrs. Rosa Sanders, music teacher, unintentionally changed that when she strongly urged her fifteen-year-old student to enter the Marian Anderson Vocal Competition in Philadelphia.

In this joyous and illuminating autobiography, Ms. Norman invites us into her life of family, friends, the world of international professional musicianship, and challenges facing the world in the arts and social justice. Each chapter is prefaced with words from a spiritual or a prayer and ends with words from an opera, which have spiritual references. A world renowned singer she has received awards, honors, accolades from dignitaries, politicians, religious leaders and other musicians. From a strong base of common sense, decency, humor and spirituality, Jessye Norman looks back on her life.  Two chapters are of significance, "Church, Spirituals and Spirit" and "Racism as It Lives and Breathes."  Norman says, "My faith informs my life," which has and does give her the strength to confront racism which still exists throughout the world. The large part of this book is the story of her life in music which has been an adventure, a delight, and continues as she performs and teaches. This autobiography will be of interest to Jessye Norman's fans, opera lovers and others.


On May 15, 2014, Jessye Norman was a guest at Aloud, and you can hear the podcast.