Sorority sisters honor Jessye Norman in touching tribute

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Thursday, October 10, 2019
News 12 at 11 O'Clock

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Today was the first of four days of celebrations for the opera star Jessye Norman who died last week at the age of 74.

People filed into the church where she grew up Thursday to pay respects. The city will honorarily rename 8th Street as Jessye Norman Boulevard.

Norman was many things. She was also an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. This evening, her sisters said their final goodbyes.

"This is something that we do for all of our members once they pass. We'll go through our rituals and at the end, we'll say our goodbyes and that's just how we handle that," Deborah Brown, a member of AKA, said.

Brown led dozens of Alpha Kappa Alpha members in a ritual of remembrance for Norman. She says Norman embodied everything the sorority stands for.

"Jessye means sisterhood, service to all mankind, giving back to the community, to the world, through arts," Brown said.

Dr. Lula Wright Williams grew up going to church with Norman. She says even though Norman was older, she still took time for the younger kids.

"Being 7 or 8 it was exciting that any teenager would care to share the air with us, but she did and she was delightful," Williams said.

As they got older and Norman gained fame, Williams says she never lost that care for others.

“Jessye would be more interested in me and what I was doing. She felt I could read about her, but she wanted to know more about me," Williams said.

Kindness, compassion, and care for others, Norman's friends and sorority sisters echoed these words when describing her. And she left them with a strong sense of pride in calling her a sister.

"We are very proud to have had her as a member of our sorority and the fact that we will always hold her up as a member of our sorority," Brown said.

Tomorrow, there will be another public viewing in the morning, followed by the street renaming at 4 p.m.

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