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Subject: Jessye Norman
From: "John H. Greene" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:John H. Greene
Date:Sun, 9 Aug 1998 18:43:55 -0400

text/plain (111 lines)

This was published in this morning's Augusta Chronicle and on their web

Opera diva to return for show

Web posted Aug. 08 at 09:03 PM

By Kent Kimes
Staff Writer

Augusta's world-renowned opera diva Jessye Norman has agreed to come home
and tape a winter holiday special for PBS to be broadcast in December.

But organizers need another $85,000 by Friday to make it happen.

``I feel confident we'll have the money,'' said Augusta Opera General
Director Edward Bradberry, who is spearheading the local fund-raising drive
to secure Ms. Norman's appearance. ``But I'm the type of person who believes
a contract when I have it signed and in my hand.''

The public performance, scheduled for November 13 at First Baptist Church on
Walton Way, will be a benefit for the Augusta Opera. Jessye Norman -- Home
for the Holidays also will include scenes of the opera singer introducing
television audiences to her hometown, filmed at locales such as the Morris
Museum of Art and the Augusta Riverwalk.

The show is scheduled to air on Georgia Public Television affiliate WCES-TV
(Channel 20) at 9 p.m. Dec. 21, said Phil Byrd, of Brandenberg Productions,
which is working in conjunction with GPTV, PBS and Japan's public television
NHK to produce the special.

``We're getting close to putting the pieces together,'' said Mr. Byrd.
``It's a show a lot of people are counting on.''

The production is budgeted at $579,000, and $494,000 has already been
secured, including $250,000 kicked in by PBS, according to Mr. Bradberry,
who sent letters to various Augusta organizations and corporations
soliciting contributions.

``A show like this is real expensive to make,'' said Mr. Byrd.

The high production costs are attributed in part to High Definition
Television equipment provided by NHK, which will allow PBS to broadcast its
first event taking advantage of new digital technology. Digital television
is being touted as the wave of the future, with sharper images and clearer

However, viewers who don't have digital TV sets won't see any benefit, Mr.
Byrd acknowledged. But he pointed out that Ms. Norman has agreed to a
six-year licensing deal, meaning PBS can broadcast the program for that

``Six years from now when you have High Definition Television, you'll see
it,'' he said.

Ms. Norman, who made her operatic debut in 1969 and her Metropolitan Opera
debut in 1983, was born in Augusta on Sept. 15, 1945, and graduated from
Lucy C. Laney High School in 1963.

Brought up in a musically inclined family, she pursued formal music training
at Howard University, the Peabody Conservatory and the University of
Michigan. She received an honorary doctorate from Paine College in 1991.

The soprano has sung on stages from Carnegie Hall to the Vienna State Opera.
She last performed in Augusta on Feb. 13 at Paine College's Gilbert Lambuth
Memorial Chapel.

In 1996, Augusta's Riverwalk Amphitheater and Plaza were named in her honor
in a public ceremony. In 1997 she received the prestigious Kennedy Center
Honors alongside Bob Dylan, Lauren Bacall, Charlton Heston and Edward

Mr. Byrd said Ms. Norman, who has been featured on several PBS specials,
wanted to do a program in Augusta last year but all the pieces didn't fall
together in time.

This time, however, organizers feel they can pull it off, provided the extra
funding comes through.

``This is an opportunity to show how unique our city is,'' Mr. Bradberry
said. ``Jessye is very, very committed to this project.''

To make contributions or for more information, contact the Augusta Opera at

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