In Conversation with Opera Star JESSYE NORMAN

Stand Up Straight and Sing!_BookJacket_LRThe Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF), in partnership with Lyric Opera of Chicago,  presented five-time Grammy Award-winning opera singer Jessye Norman on May 19, 2014  at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (112 S. Michigan Ave.). Legendary soprano Jessye Norman was interviewed by opera dramaturg Colin Ure discussed her new memoir titled Stand Up Straight and Sing!,  released on May 6. 

“I am absolutely thrilled to be able to tell my own story, to celebrate my family’s rich, diverse heritage and pay tribute to all those who have imbued my life with their resonance,” said Norman. “I am grateful beyond measure for everyone who has ever said ‘Let’s get Jessye to sing.’”

Jessye Norman is one of America’s greatest and most accomplished classical singers, with five Grammy Awards, dozens of international prizes, and a Kennedy Center Honor (its youngest-ever recipient) among her countless awards. She pursued music at Howard University and the University of Michigan, and achieved astonishing early success with a contract from the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Her career since then has reached from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera to concerts in honor of the Dalai Lama, the bicentennial of the French republic, and multimedia presentations of American roots music.

Stand Up Straight and Sing! details Norman’s journey to opera royalty—from her musical upbringing during Jim Crow racism in Georgia, to her rise at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the ultimate recognition of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Stand Up Straight and Sing! is an inspiring memoir of an astonishing life.

Moderator Colin Ure was born in Glasgow, Scotland and studied music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Following graduation he performed as a professional classical singer throughout the UK, and in 1992 became an artists’ manager, where he advised, developed, and structured the careers of young singers worldwide. In 2005 he was appointed dramaturg for the Houston Grand Opera. Currently based in Chicago, he works as a freelance dramaturg and writer/presenter for the WFMT radio series Ryan Center Recital Series.

This program is presented in partnership with Lyric Opera of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute.

Opera legend Jessye Norman comes to Chicago to share her extraordinary journey from a childhood in segregated Augusta, Georgia, to star of the world’s grandest stages. Her memoir Stand Up Straight and Sing! deepens our appreciation for her stunning musical gifts. Get up close and personal with one of history’s greatest singers. 

Following the conversation, Norman signed copies of Stand Up Straight and Sing! CHF is proud to partner with Unabridged Bookstore to offer hardcover copies of Stand Up Straight and Sing! for pre-or

About the Chicago Humanities Festival

For 25 years, the Chicago Humanities Festival has celebrated the questions that shape and define us as individuals, communities, and cultures. For the intellectually curious, CHF’s vibrant year-round programming and robust Fall Festival offer the opportunity to engage with some of the world’s most brilliant minds. Collaborating with leading arts, cultural, and educational organizations, it presents scholars, artists and architects, thinkers, theologians, and policy makers that change how we see the world, where we’re from, and where we’re going. CHF also presents the spring Stages, Sights & Sounds international children’s theater festival. Under the leadership of Executive Director Phillip Bahar and Artistic Director Matti Bunzl, CHF has become an institution central to the fabric of the city. Visit chicagohumanities.org for more information.