Grammy-winning opera singer Jessye Norman has died at age 74. Once considered the world's number one soprano singer, Jessye Norman won four Grammy Awards, including a Grammy lifetime achievement award, and the National Medal of Arts for her legendary talents.
Ms. Norman's death was announced by her family. She died in New York on Monday from septic shock and multi-organ failure secondary to complications of a spinal cord injury she had sustained in 2015, according to the statement.
"We are so proud of Jessye's musical achievements and the inspiration that she provided to audiences around the world that will continue to be a source of joy," the statement from her family reads. "We are equally proud of her humanitarian endeavors addressing matters such as hunger, homelessness, youth development, and arts and culture education."
Ms. Norman is a native of Augusta, Georgia. She began singing in the Mount Calvary Baptist Church at age four. Her mother, Janie King-Norman, a schoolteacher, insisted she start piano lessons at age 5.
She earned a scholarship to the historically black college Howard University in Washington, D.C. to study music. She also studied at the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Michigan.
Ms. Norman made her operatic debut in 1969 in Berlin, and has thrilled audiences in Milan, London and New York.
The Rachel Longstreet Foundation and Norman partnered to open the Jessye Norman School of the Arts, a tuition-free performing arts after-school program for economically disadvantaged students in Augusta.
She is best known for her roles in the operas of Richard Wagner, such as Lohengrin, Tannhäuser and Tristan and Isolde.
Norman was never married and had no children.