Jessye Norman – a towering talent


Descriptions of the magnificent Jessye Norman’s voice range from “opulent”, through “sumptuous” and “shimmering” to “voluptuous” with one reviewer likening it to a “grand mansion of sound.” Combined with a regal stage presence it took her to the top in the operatic world to become one of the most celebrated singers of the latter part of the 20th Century.

Born on 15 September 1945 (according to obituaries and wiki, though ADB has her at 19 September 1.45 am Augusta, Georgia) she grew up in the racist and segregated south. Her family was musical and she learnt to play the harmonium early on and sang gospel in church from 4 years old. Her earliest successes were in Europe. Having won the Munich International music competition in 1968, she made her operatic debut in Berlin. Her US stage debut did not come until 1982. From the 1990s Norman was increasingly involved in crossover incorporating sacred music by Duke Ellington and jazz combo into her repertoire. She sang at Reagan’s 2nd Inauguration and Bill Clinton’s and at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ funeral as well as at a memorial for victims of the Twin Towers terrorist attacks in 2001.

She died this week due to complications from a 2015 injury.

Assuming 15th September is accurate and the 19th is a typo:

Her Virgo Sun was on the focal point of a T Square to a Sagittarius Moon opposition Uranus in Gemini – so she had a healthy ego, was suited to a constantly changing job, and while more recently she had mentioned being in a relationship doesn’t seem to have married. She has a powerful 2nd house Pluto which is conjunct a flamboyant Venus in Leo and is sextile Uranus and Jupiter Neptune in Libra. Her family was obviously important to her with Jupiter Neptune in her 4th and she said despite the Jim Crow atmosphere of the world in which she grew up, her parents gave her a strong sense of self belief. Her Mars in excitable Cancer was in a confident and showbizzy square to Jupiter Neptune and an outspoken sextile to Mercury; and she also had Saturn in Cancer sextile her Sun for common sense and discipline.

Her Harmonics are notable with an exceptionally strong creative 5H and 7H; as well as the genius/breakthrough 13H; determined 11H; leaving-a-legacy 17H; and especially her superstar 22H.

4 thoughts on “Jessye Norman – a towering talent

  1. Marjorie, thank you for this. Jessye Norman was obviously a unique individual and undoubtedly a great singer- just listen to her recording of Strauss’ last songs. Like Pavorotti she had a very distinctive voice- you could not mistake it. On the other hand there were rumours that she could be a diva which you can see in the horoscope but on reflection if anyone was entitled to be difficult it was her.

  2. Her in French flag singing “La Marseillaise” at bicentannarry of Storming of the Bastille was probably the main reason I wanted to become an opera singer when I was a teenager. I already loved classical music and there were, in retrospective, fabulous female singers getting a lot of exposure, but she was just different. As a much more enlighted opera listener, I think it must have been that she essentially sang like a deep bass. Somehow I feel she too would have enjoyed singing maybe Il Commendatore, and would have been magnificent in it.

  3. Thank you for this Marjorie. I’ve only recently really discovered her wondeful voice. That Sagittarius Moon does support the time she spent living overseas in Europe (Berlin and London) and her ability to speak several languages (French and German and I read that she also spoke some Italian and Spanish). I’m interested too that Chiron is also in the Neptune/Jupiter conjunction. Her almost otherworldly gift carries some kind of wound, or possibly healing capacity?

  4. Jessye Norman had such an amazing voice and remember hearing recordings of her singing when growing up – such a huge voice. So sad…

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