Famous faces, family members and close friends have honored the life and legacy of international opera icon Jessye Norman at her funeral.
Norman's four-hour public service was held in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia. Emmy- and Tony-winning actor Laurence Fishburne, author Michael Eric Dyson, civil rights activist Vernon Jordan and Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. memorialized Norman at the William B. Bell Auditorium. Family members, including Norman's brother, nephew, goddaughter and niece-in-law, also spoke onstage.
Several musicians paid tribute with performances, including Metropolitan Opera mezzo soprano J'Nai Bridges, jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, musical director and arranger Damien Sneed, the glee clubs at Morehouse College and Spelman College, and students of Jessye Norman School of the Arts, which Norman founded in 2003 in Augusta to provide a free fine arts education to disadvantaged children.
Norman, who died on Sept. 30 at age 74, was one of the rare black singers to attain worldwide stardom in the opera world.
Leading figures in entertainment and culture are paying tribute to international opera icon Jessye Norman at her funeral in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia.
Laurence Fishburne said that as a struggling young actor, he looked at photos of great artists, including Norman, to help him focus.
Fishburne said he came "to celebrate her life, her good words, her accomplishments, and to praise her for using her talents, her gift, her compassion, her intellect to lift all of us up a little higher." Fishburne, like Norman, was raised in Augusta.
Georgetown University sociologist and author Michael Eric Dyson gave a passionate remembrance.
He said, "(Jessye) was black girl magic before the term ever existed. Before there was Oprah and before there was Beyoncé and before there was Michelle Obama, there was Jessye Norman."
Norman died Sept. 30 at age 74.
The funeral for international opera icon Jessye Norman has begun in Augusta, Georgia, where the star grew up.
A musical prelude began the ceremony Saturday in the William B. Bell Auditorium. Norman's family proceeded into the auditorium following the performance. The funeral is being livestreamed from Augusta.
Actor Laurence Fishburne, who is also from Augusta, will speak during the public service. Performers will include Wycliffe Gordon, J'Nai Bridges and students of Jessye Norman School of the Arts.
Norman died Sept. 30 at age 74. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the Kennedy Center Honor and four Grammy Awards.
World-famous performers, civil rights leaders and people who know her good works are gathering in international opera star Jessye Norman's Georgia hometown for her funeral.
Norman will be laid to rest Saturday afternoon at the William B. Bell Auditorium in Augusta, Georgia, with a private burial to follow.
Actor Laurence Fishburne is expected to speak and musicians Wycliffe Gordon and J'Nai Bridges from the Metropolitan Opera will perform.
Norman's longtime friend and civil rights activist Vernon Jordan will talk about the singer's life at her family's church in Augusta, along with elders.
Norman died Sept. 30 at age 74. A trailblazing performer, she was one of the rare black singers to attain worldwide stardom in the opera world.