Street renamed in honor of the opera legend, Jessye Norman

Friday, October 11, 2019
News 12 at 11 O'Clock

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- For most people, the street renaming ceremony for Jessye Norman was bittersweet.

The honorary Jessye Norman Boulevard sign was approved back in 2015 by commissioners to honor all of her achievements.

While most family and friends of the opera legend felt pride and happiness during the sign renaming ceremony, there was also a touch of sadness because she was supposed to be here for it.

"It felt like a homecoming, but we weren't expecting it to be this kind of homecoming," Gary Dennis, Executive Director for the Jessye Norman School of the Arts said.

"She said, 'you know, I haven't been there in a few years'," Elaine Norman-Sturkey, Jessye Norman's sister said. "She couldn't wait. She didn't get an opportunity to come."

Elaine knows how much her sister Jessye would've loved this moment.

"I am a student of the jessye norman school of the arts!" the students chanted.

Her sister says Jessye would've loved the moment the kids from the Jessye Norman School of the Arts recited the creed, the moment a street was named in her honor.

"A lot of times you don't get honor at home so it was home and Augusta means and has always meant a lot to her," Norman-Sturkey said. "Her connection with home has never changed."

Jessye Norman was not here in person, but she was certainly here in spirit.

"I believe that Augusta's daughter, from the streets of Augusta to the Lincoln center to Grammy nominations to the Presidential Metal of Freedom, we couldn't be more proud than today to further embody and memorialize the rich tradition of music that our city has enjoyed," Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis said.

The renaming ceremony was honorary, but this moment is just the beginning.

"Miss. Norman, honorary street naming does not do you justice," William Fennoy- Augusta Commissioner, District 1 said. "It's my plan to put on our next committee agenda to have 8th street renamed Jessye Norman Blvd."

A moment written in Augusta's history.