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Discovering an Interview with Soprano Jessye Norman

"If I were to have these decisions about not going to countries because I disagree with the political situations, I think I would have stayed home a lot," Jessye Norman told Channel 1 in Israel in 2016.

"I think we need to understand, and admit, that these feelings always existed just under the surface, and what they needed was permission to be released," Norman said.

I recently stumbled upon this extended interview with the American soprano on YouTube:

Anyone who listens to Norman sing, or who has read her book, "Stand Up Straight and Sing!", knows she is very aware of the turmoil inherent in any life well lived.

I have never heard her speak so passionately — perhaps controversially — about world affairs. Norman did this interview during the last presidential campaign in the United States. She spoke about American politics, her view of the United States at the time, not performing Wagner in Israel and the worlds' continued bondage to racism.

Whether you agree with these views, this is an antidote to the stereotypical "And then I sang" interview attributed to classical singers.

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.
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