This week New York Festival of Song honors the great Jessye Norman and her legacy with a series of remembrances from those she inspired. Today’s tribute comes from mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford.
In high school at Fiorello H. LaGuardia, it was “Take your daughter to work” day and around ten of us were chosen to walk across the street and attend a dress rehearsal at the MET that Ms. Norman was performing in. Back then you had to look up at the top of the stage to see the subtitles. I don’t remember seeing one phrase. I was so mesmerized by this stately, African American woman, seemingly gliding across the stage singing with so much power and conviction! And her mouth was huge!
After the rehearsal we went into a room and sat down for lunch and in walks Ms Norman. It was as if she glided into the room as she seemed to do on stage. It was truly magical to have this larger-than-life figure of a woman on a stage (the MET stage, no less) walk into a small room and look you in the eye, ask questions and actually listen to you as a teenager. She asked us where we were from and what we wanted to do in the future and then she told us about her journey. That day she inspired about ten aspiring teenage artists that day and I was one of them. Ms. Jessye Norman! Thank you for sharing your gift and your wisdom with so many! RIP