Neighbors remember opera icon Jessye Norman as a gifted singer, pianist

Neighbors remember opera icon Jessye Norman as a gifted singer, pianist

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Home is where the heart is.

“I’m so glad that they brought her home so that people like myself and the rest of the neighborhood could say goodbye," said Williette Evans.

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Opera Star Jessye Norman’s neighbors said yes, her success took her far, but her heart never left Augusta.

Evans, the first person at Norman’s public viewing, said it feels special to say goodbye in person. “This is an icon and if we don’t really honor our people from the neighborhood. This is a great woman here. She’s been all over, so we need to show respect."

Norman came from a family of musicians who lived just walking distance from her childhood church, Mount Calvary.

“We all grew up on Forest Street," Evans recalled.

Patricia Ann Stokes-Twiggs was also a childhood neighbor and friend.

“We grew up in the same area on Forest Street there,” Stokes-Twiggs said.

Norman’s dad was Stokes-Twiggs’ deacon at Mt. Calvary and she said Norman played piano for the junior choir

“She was a beautiful person. She was gracious, kind. Everybody loved her," Stokes-Twiggs said.

Seeing her in this church one more time reignites memories of the sweet soprano.

“My mind went back to her being here at the church and I could just hear her.”

Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated are expected to hold a private ceremony for Ms. Norman at 7 p.m. EST. She was inducted as an honorary member back in 1987.

Public viewing begins again Friday at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church from 9 a.m. until noon. CLICK HERE for a look at the itinerary for the celebration of Norman’s life.

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