Stand Up Straight and Sing!

Jessye Norman
In Conversation With Deborah Borda
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Episode Summary

On the occasion of her new memoir, one of America’s most beloved and accomplished classical singers shares her life story: a descendant of generations of hardworking slaves and free ancestors who grew up amid the challenges of Jim Crow racism in the south as the civil rights movement was at its nascence. Nurtured by a close family and a tight-knit community centered on the local church, Jessye Norman grew up singing songs and spirituals within a tight-knit community. Decades later, after a meteoric rise at the Berlin Opera, a debut at the Metropolitan Opera, and forays into blues, jazz, and other roots music, she has become one of America’s cultural treasures. Join us for an evening with an inspiring artist who has lead an astonishing life.

Participant(s) Bio

Jessye Norman is one of America's greatest and most accomplished classical singers, with five Grammy Awards, dozens of international prizes, and a Kennedy Center Honor (its youngest-ever recipient) among her countless awards. She was born in segregated Augusta, Georgia, during the Jim Crow era and was inspired by singer Marian Anderson and by her loving and supportive parents, who insisted that all four of their children live up to the highest possible standards. She pursued music at Howard University and the University of Michigan and achieved early success with a contract from the Berlin Opera. Her career since then has reached from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera to concerts in honor of the Dalai Lama, the bicentennial of the French Republic, as well as multi-media presentations of American roots music.

Prior to becoming President and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2000, Deborah Borda was Executive Director at the New York Philharmonic and General Manager of the San Francisco Symphony. Under Borda’s leadership, the orchestra is building new bridges to the community, among them the educational initiative YOLA. As Executive Producer, Borda implemented LA Phil LIVE concert transmissions to more than 500 movie theaters. Most recently, Borda launched Take A Stand, a bi-coastal partnership with the Longy School of Music and Bard College which supports social change through music.