Hundreds come to Jessye Norman funeral, talk impact on the music industry

Published: Oct. 12, 2019 at 11:44 PM EDT
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Saturday, October 12, 2019

News 12 at 11 o'clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Saturday was day three of four days of remembrance for local icon Jessye Norman.

Hundreds of people went to Bell Auditorium for Norman's funeral. People in the music industry came from all over the country to pay their respects and reflect.

"She helped me get out of my shell," said Kathy J. Gary, an international opera singer. "She gave me more confidence because I used to be kind of quiet and shy. She said 'Kathy, you can't be quiet like that because you're an international opera singer.'"

Dr. Karen Thomas is a composer from Philadelphia. She first saw Jessye Norman perform 30 years ago.

"I was at her debut performance in Philadelphia at the Academy of Music," she said. "It was awesome. It was really a memorable occasion. The house was packed, and she did a phenomenal job."

Dr. Thomas never met Jessye Norman, but she made the nearly 700-mile trip for her funeral.

"I came here to pay my respects. She'll be greatly missed," she said.

Most people at the funeral said the world lost a star. People in Augusta said the lost a hometown legend. People like Gary, lost a role model. She said if she could talk to Jessye Norman one more time, she would say thank you.

"I would have a great conversation with her and thank her so much for encouraging the young people," Gary said. "I would say 'you're doing such a marvelous thing making sure that young people are introduced to music and will use music.'"

Even though Jessye Norman is gone, her legacy will live on.

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