Opera star Jessye Norman dies at 74

Catherine Garcia

Legendary opera singer Jessye Norman died Monday in New York City, a spokesperson for her family said. She was 74.

Norman died from septic shock and multi-organ failure, secondary complications of a 2015 spinal cord injury. In a statement, her family said they 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 endeavors addressing matters such as hunger, homelessness, youth development, and arts and culture education."

Born in Augusta, Georgia, Norman was a trailblazing black operatic soprano. She made her debut in Berlin in 1969 and went on to perform around the world, taking on the title roles in operas like Carmen and Aida. A member of the British Royal Academy of Music and Georgia Music Hall of Fame, Norman won four Grammy awards, a National Medal of Arts, and a Kennedy Center honor, and also has an orchid named after her in France.