Students, teachers at Jessye Norman School of the Arts share their love of the opera great

Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019

The spirit of Jessye Norman, who passed away at the age of 74 on Monday, still lives in the halls of her namesake school in Augusta. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Augusta is continuing to remember international opera star Jessye Norman, who passed away Monday at 74.

The Jessye Norman School of the Arts opened in 2003 to provide free fine arts education to disadvantaged students.

Students there now are sad, but they are thankful for her.

The opera great's voice echoes through the halls of the school.

"When you come through the doors of Jessye Norman, you're going to feel the presence of life and love and that's what she represents to me,” former teacher Baruti Tucker said.

To Tucker, a piano at the school is his tribute to her.

"Art is not just about what you can do, art is how you live through life when you're doing it,” Tucker said.

He's one of thousands moved not only by her voice, but her devotion to inspiring children.

Linda Scales is one of the school's founders. For everyone here, Norman's death is very personal.

"We'll just miss her and that special support that she gave any time she came in,” Scales said.

While she touched millions around the globe with her music, in Augusta, her legacy is much greater.

"I think her challenge to excellence is one they will never forget,” Scales said. “She would say, ‘If you're going to do a thing, why be mediocre? Go for excellence.’"

But what does her death mean for the school's future? School officials say they will work harder than ever to live up to the wonderful legacy Norman left behind.

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