2009 National Medal of Arts recipient and soprano Jessye Norman receives her medal from President Barack Obama

2009 National Medal of Arts recipient and soprano Jessye Norman receives her medal from President Barack Obama at an East Room ceremony at the White House on February 25, 2010. The National Medal of Arts is a presidential initiative managed by the National Endowment for the Arts and is the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence. Photo by Richard Frasier

Jessye Norman

Soprano

Bio

Jessye Norman is renowned for her unparalleled soprano voice and vocal phrasing that is spontaneous and passionate. She is equally adept performing American spirituals or French chansons, as she is for acclaimed operatic performances. A five-time Grammy Award winner for her contributions to classical music, she joined Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and other stellar performers as a recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as many others. Norman's non-performance interests focus on assisting others in particular, her beloved Jessye Norman School of the Arts which provides an after-school, tuition-free program in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia.