The highly esteemed American soprano Jessye Norman has died at the age of 74. A statement released to the Associated Press attributed the cause of death to septic shock and multi-organ failure, secondary to complications of a spinal cord injury Norman had sustained in 2015. A four-time Grammy Award winner, recipient of the National Medal of the Arts as well as the Kennedy Center Honor, Norman’s death was confirmed by a family spokesperson.

Jessye Norman

“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. We are equally proud of her humanitarian endeavours addressing matters such as hunger, homelessness, youth development, and arts and culture education,” the family statement read.

Possessed of a powerful, sumptuous voice particularly suited to the roles of Wagner and Strauss, Norman was also a distinguished interpreter of the classical song repertoire. She was born on September 15, 1945 in Augusta, Georgia, surrounded by a family of pianists and singers. She grew up singing in church and won a scholarship to study music at Howard University in 1962, an historically black college,...