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Comment: Shared Knowledge is a not for profit public charity! Check us out on facebook. We provide funding for educational programs in Richmond, Virginia. PLEASE READ FULL DESCRIPTION -USED GOOD- This book has been read and may show wear to the cover and or pages. There may be some dog-eared pages. In some cases the internal pages may contain highlighting/margin notes/underlining or any combination of these markings. The binding will be secure in all cases. This is a good reading and studying copy and has been verified that all pages are legible and intact. If the book contained a CD it is not guaranteed to still be included. Your purchase directly supports our scholarship program as well as our partner charities. All items are packed and shipped from the Amazon warehouse. Thanks so much for your purchase!
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Stand Up Straight and Sing! Hardcover – May 6, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade; 1ST edition (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544003403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544003408
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Raised in Augusta, Georgia, a child of the Jim Crow and civil rights era, Grammy-winning, international opera singer Norman offers a broad and global perspective on life, the arts, and spirituality. Encouraged at an early age, she recalls playing on her grandmother’s pedal organ, listening to her mother and grandmother sing spirituals, and taking to heart her mother’s admonition to stand up straight while reciting and singing. She recalls a long line of ancestors and the tight-knit community who encouraged her to go beyond the limitations of race and sex. Surrounded by music, from gospel to jazz to classical, and inspired by Marian Anderson, she started singing in church. Her talent was later nurtured at Howard University, and she went on to a career singing at the Berlin Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. Looking back on her life, she marvels at her long journey from the segregated South to a dazzling career in the arts. Norman recalls memorable performances and makes observations on the power of beautiful music to enter the spirit and simply live there. Her inspiring memoir includes lyrics of her favorite songs. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"This is a terrific read for anyone who loves opera and classical music, but it is also the story of a compelling and uniquely American journey." –AARP.org

"Norman is a storyteller, and Stand Up Straight and Sing! unfolds the life of a conscientious artist who prominently meshes with the history of her times." –Santa Barbara Independent

"[It] is this memoir’s life-affirming richness that most readers will take away – its hard-won wisdom and magnanimity." –The Augusta Chronicle

"The best parts of Ms. Norman's book are her lyrical evocations of her early life in Augusta, Ga. She builds a rich portrait of a childhood firmly grounded by family, church and community." –The Wall Street Journal

"Raised in Augusta, Georgia, a child of the Jim Crow and civil rights era, Grammy–winning, international opera singer Norman offers a broad and global perspective on life, the arts, and spirituality. Encouraged at an early age, she recalls playing on her grandmother’s pedal organ, listening to her mother and grandmother sing spirituals, and taking to heart her mother’s admonition to "stand up straight" while reciting and singing. She recalls a long line of ancestors and the tight-knit community who encouraged her to go beyond the limitations of race and sex. Surrounded by music, from gospel to jazz to classical, and inspired by Marian Anderson, she started singing in church. Her talent was later nurtured at Howard University, and she went on to a career singing at the Berlin Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. Looking back on her life, she marvels at her long journey from the segregated South to a dazzling career in the arts. Norman recalls memorable performances and observations on the power of beautiful music to "enter the spirit and simply live there." Her inspiring memoir includes lyrics of her favorite songs." — Booklist

Customer Reviews

It was fun to read her life's story.
JLS DC
In this book Jessye Norman shares her thoughts about important things that happened in her life to help make her the woman she is today.
saadiqa ali
Jessye Norman is one of the greatest singers this country has produced.
Grady Harp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Jessye Norman is one of the greatest singers this country has produced. This reviewer recalls an evening in the 1960s when she substituted for an ailing colleague at a college auditorium in Los Angeles. Not knowing her name the concert was almost avoided, but what an evening of revelation that was. This graceful large lady flowed out onto the stage in a gown with a piano keyboard pattern, tossed off the usual few arias and songs and then broke into some intimate French cabaret songs and in one fell swoop rose to stardom in the audience's hearts. That stage presence coupled with a ravishing beautiful soprano voice carried her into the tough roles like Judith in Bluebeard's Castle, Sieglinde, Ariadne, Alceste, and Leonore.

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
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I can't tell you how much I am inspired by Jessye Norman's life that is chronicled in her book STAND UP STRAIGHT AND SING!

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.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Experienced Editor VINE VOICE on April 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The structure of Jessye Norman's memoir parallels a musical program, arranged from "Prelude" to "Postlude" and "Coda." The midpoint is "Interlude," a tribute to the great Marian Anderson. Lyrics from spirituals, art songs, and other pieces from Miss Norman's wide repertoire begin and end each chapter, binding the content together in the way that chorales unify a Bach cantata or spirituals interconnect the parts of Michael Tippett's A Child of Our Time.

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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Janice Sims VINE VOICE on May 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I grew up listening to Ms Norman singing opera and spirituals. I never had the opportunity of hearing her live, only seeing her on TV, most of the time on PBS. But I've been a fan for many years. When Amazon Vine gave me the option of reading her autobiography I jumped on it. She begins by talking (and I say this because the book has a very conversational tone) about her childhood in Augusta, Georgia and of her early influences: her family, her church and some kind teachers who had sound advice about developing her God-given talent. Then she discusses her education and the voice teachers who guided her. What I enjoyed the most was her descriptions performing all over the world. And also how much of an activist she was and still is. I didn't know that about her. If you're looking for a gossipy autobiography, you won't find it here. Ms Norman keeps it professional, focusing on her career and nothing salacious at all. She relates her story in a very positive manner, which I thought was very refreshing!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

The breadth and width of Jessye Norman's eclectic repertoire share equal richness with that of her innovative programming and scholarship. She brings her passion for singing to all that she surveys on the opera and concert stages of the world, as well as her newest expansion in the world of jazz. Miss Norman's collaborations with some of today's most exciting and creative artists of many different disciplines enliven her own exploration of the arts in all its glorious forms.
In March of 2012, she performed songs of John Cage with Meredith Monk and Joan LaBarbara under the auspices of the San Francisco Symphony and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. This fully-staged production of the Cage songs presented yet another opportunity for Miss Norman to scale new heights and broaden her artistic palette while enjoying another wonderful collaboration with artists who she admires.
The Jessye Norman School for the Arts in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia is a tuition-free arts program for talented middle school students who would otherwise not be able to enjoy private tutoring in the arts. The school is in its eleventh academic year and is not only a source of great pride for Miss Norman, but a reaction to the need and understanding that students given the opportunity of having the arts as a part of their education and this positive means of self-expression perform better academically all round and grow up to be more involved and caring citizens.
Please do find out more about the school at: jessyenormanschool.org.
Miss Norman's latest recording, ROOTS: MY LIFE, MY SONG, shares with the listener what she refers to as a part of her personal universe, some of the soundtrack of her life which offers her the opportunity to pay homage to some of the many who influence and encourage her ceaseless curiosity and what she feels is an obligation to offer musical expression outside of the traditional Classical canon, as she wishes to reach as many ears as will hear and as many hearts that are open to taking this often surprising musical journey with her. Her work with several not-for-profit organizations include the New York Public Library, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, Howard University and the Carnegie Hall Boards of Trustees, a graduate fellowship program and master class series in her name at The University of Michigan and spokesperson for The Partnership for the Homeless, all of which speak to her concern for the larger community and the citizenship that she credits her parents for having shown her from early childhood through their own community service.
Miss Norman's accolades and awards include five Grammys and some thirty-eight honorary doctorates from universities, colleges and conservatories around the world, but it is the sheer joy of singing the keeps her ever searching, ever exploring, ever seeking to honor the ancestors.

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