Jessye Norman performs a breadth and depth of repertoire that encompasses her innovative programming and scholarship. She is admired and respected for her artistry presented on the world’s opera and concert stages and in her newest expansion into jazz—as well as for her humanitarian contributions. Her collaborations with today’s most exciting and creative artists include her work with four-time Grammy-winning composer Laura Karpman, resulting in a multi-media musical theatre piece, Ask Your Mama—Twelve Poems on Jazz–by Langston Hughes, premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2009 as a part of the HONOR! Festival, a fifty-two event celebration of the African-American contribution to world culture, curated and directed by Miss Norman. Ask Your Mama was also presented at the Hollywood Bowl. Her collaboration in 2013 with Garth Fagan Dance, celebrating The African American Cultural Legacy, speaks to her never-ending fascination with dance. This fascination has extended to Bill T. Jones, The Alvin American Dance Theater, as well as with the legendary Rudolf Nureyev.
The Jessye Norman School for the Arts in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia is a tuition-free arts education program for talented middle-school students otherwise unable to experience private arts tutoring. The school, now celebrating ten years of joy in the arts, is Miss Norman’s response to the understanding that given the opportunity to explore the arts, students introduced to this positive means of self-expression perform better in their other studies and become more involved citizens. Miss Norman’s latest recording, Roots: My Life, My Song, shares with listeners part of her personal universe in which she pays homage to some of the many who encourage her curiosity and what she feels is an obligation to offer musical expression outside the Classical canon. Her goal is to reach all those open to taking this often surprising musical journey with her. Miss Norman’s work with not-for-profit organizations, including the New York Public Library, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, Howard University, Carnegie Hall, The Partnership for the Homeless along with a graduate fellowship and Master Class series in her name at the University of Michigan, speaks to her concern for the larger community and the citizenship she credits her parents for demonstrating through their own community service. Miss Norman is an honorary ambassador to the United Nations, a Kennedy Center Honoree, a National Medal of the Arts awardee, a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres and a member of France’s Legion D’Honneur... With five Grammys and over forty honorary doctorates, it is the still the sheer joy of singing that keeps her searching, exploring, and seeking to honor the ancestors.