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Stand Up Straight and Sing! Hardcover – May 6, 2014
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Top Customer Reviews
Now we have her memoir and it is not surprising that she writes exceedingly well. This book is not just about Jessye Norman: this memoir is about the journey through racism and all that followed the civil rights movement. Her life is as impressive as her vocal gifts and for anyone who has ever had the privilege of being in the opera house or concert hall when Jessye Norman performs, this book is a must read. Grady Harp, April 14
She is able to take us not just into the path that led her to the greatness she is now enjoying, but acknowledges those who were inspirational to her along the way. It all began in the home. It was a place where she was encouraged to not just thrive but to be the best of herself.
At a time when it was expected that girls would be born, go through schooling then get married with children... Jessye writes this: "I craved bigger. And I found it hard,even at an early age, to fit my mind, body, and spirit into the too-tiny box carved out for girls and women of my generation." With the example of her mother, she was able to look past the hurt and discrimination that stopped many and focused on her gifts---and it was those gifts that would take her exactly where she wanted to go.
She had the privilege of singing for dignitaries like Rosa Park and Presidents but she also became an example to other women (and even men) what was possible for them with hard work, dedication and faith. She was not going to be defined by others. Jessye Norman writes: "As has always been the case, I sing the music of my heart."
Deeply moving and inspiring, Jessye Norman's STAND UP STRAIGHT AND SING! shows that your gifts will make room for you.
Each chapter has its own theme and could stand alone. Miss Norman begins by describing the foundations from which her life philosophy grew: the diligence and vision of her grandparents; the dignity and resilience maintained by her parents during the Jim Crow era; and her own early years in Augusta, Georgia. Subsequent chapters discuss places she has been, people she has known, experiences she has had. Of course music is the constant throughout. I particularly appreciated learning from her thoughts on singing as craft and art form.
The tone is positive throughout the book. Even the chapter "Racism as It Lives and Breathes" avoids bitterness. She relates incidents but does not dwell on them. Instead, she demonstrates a sense of self-worth that refuses to be defined by someone else's prejudices. To her credit, she does not identify the offenders, although she freely names the people she has admired and respected in her life.
So why did I give this memoir only four stars? I couldn't help wishing an editor had been more alert to the repetition. In her enthusiasm for her art, the author repeatedly describes working with her colleagues as "a joy" or "a privilege" or "a pleasure." She is frequently "thrilled." Music is "beautiful" and "wonderful.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What an incredible bit of self-aggrandizement! I found it almost impossible to read this book which told me very little about Jessye Norman and instead focused on petty squabbles... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Janet S. Yoder
I liked it OK (love the performer), but it's a bit dry as far as autobiographies go.Published 7 months ago by Annie S.
Really excellent memoir especially about her days in the south growing up and later working in divided Germany. Jessye Norman is always an impeccable singer and perfectionist. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Dante
Jessye Norman writes as beautifully and elegantly as she sings. Her book kept me captivated as she told the stories of her youth, living under the Jim Crow laws and experiencing... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Reader from Southern California
Jesseye Norman writes with passion, clarity and incredible modesty about her inspiring and marvelous career. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Greta
Interesting read. Well written with both musical and cultural/political thoughts. Nice to know such an amazing voice is backup up by an amazing mind and soul.Published 8 months ago by MagdaNils
Jessye Norman.....What can I say that has not already been said about this truly fascinating and vocal treasure... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Gregory E. Foster
I love the beginning chapters about Augusta, Georgia and her family. She tells us what it was like to grow up in Augusta in the 50's and 60's. Fascinating. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Edward Swift