Manual Stand Up Straight and Sing!

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While changing the stations on her small radio to find something to listen to while doing small household chores, she discovered a live broadcast of the New York Metropolitan Opera.

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She adored it from the moment she heard it and says her parents were always supportive as her love and pursuit of music grew. Things were different at Michigan. But Ann Arbor quickly became home. We also had a great friend and fellow student singer who worked for one of the pizza companies, and we would put our pennies together when we wanted a bit of fun and order a pizza that he would have to deliver and then we would keep him for an hour to talk.

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We had great fun. She says everyone who met the singer realized quickly she was destined for greatness.


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Even though she had such a monster talent, there was a real seriousness of purpose. Norman writes in her book of the growing understanding she received at U-M of how to control her breath, and she appears perplexed and surprised when I ask what else she learned while a student. When you understand that breathing is the very foundation of what you do and that to come to terms and understand that, you have learned a lesson for life.


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My studies prior to Michigan had taught me this, and it was wonderful to have this reinforced at such an important juncture in my training. A love of education comes from them too. Her mother was once a schoolteacher and certainly was part of the inspiration for Norman to help found the Jessye Norman School for the Arts in her hometown of Augusta in The tuition-free after-school program serves talented middle school children who would not otherwise be able to afford private arts tutoring.

She is deeply invested and involved with the organization and proud of its impact.


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  5. Though she is not married and has never become a parent herself, she writes in her book that when people ask if she has any children, she likes to say she has —the number of students attending the school. She gives much of her time to these young students and shares with them performance lessons she still lives by today. You cannot be burdened thinking about this, but it is important to know that, for someone, that performance is the first time they might hear you and maybe the only time they ever hear you.

    You should do the best you can. Born and raised in Augusta, Georgia, she studied the piano and sang the songs of her childhood, never dreaming that this passion for music might lead to her life's profession. Here she presents "a rich portrait of a childhood firmly grounded by family, church and community," and recalls in rich detail the strong women who were her role models, from her ancestors to family friends, relatives, and teachers The Wall Street Journal.

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    She also discusses her relationship with the pioneering African American singer Marian Anderson—revealing the lifelong support she provided through her example of dignity and grace at all times. Norman also describes coming face-to-face with racism, both as a child living in the segregated South and as an adult out and about in the world.

    Jessye Norman 'Give Me Jesus' 1990

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    Stand Up Straight and Sing! | Los Angeles Public Library

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