‘Simply breath-taking!’ Legendary soprano Jessye Norman wins Glenn Gould Prize

American soprano legend Jessye Norman, known for her powerful, versatile voice and her celebrated turns in Wagnerian operas, is the latest winner of the $100,000 Glenn Gould Prize. 

Despite an impressive list of nominees, “we were united in our admiration for the 12th Glenn Gould Prize Laureate, the incomparable Jessye Norman,” actor and artist Viggo Mortensen, chair of this year’s jury, said in a statement.

Hailing Norman as “one of the great vocal artists of our time, or any time,” Gould Foundation executive director Brian Levine said the singer’s influence extends widely.

“Her career has provided a positive role model for countless artists coming from disadvantaged circumstances as she did and overcoming the very real racial barrier that thwarted so many careers. Her triumph is an expression of the power of art to transcend all human boundaries.”

As the latest laureate, Norman will also choose an outstanding young artist or ensemble to receive the corresponding City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize of $15,000.

Jessye Norman, seen performing in Germany in 2006, called the prize a ‘magnificent honour.’ ( Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

“It is with the utmost humility and gratitude that I accept this magnificent honour,” Norman said.

“To have been chosen to receive this auspicious recognition is quite simply breath-taking!”

Awarded biennially to a living individual who has “enriched the human condition through the arts” over his or her lifetime, the Gould Prize includes $100,000 in cash and a statue created by Canadian artist Ruth Abernethy. Past winners of the honour, established in memory of the virtuoso Canadian pianist, have included Philip Glass, Leonard Cohen, Yo Yo Ma and Oscar Peterson.

Norman was selected by a nine-member international jury that — alongside Danish-American artist Mortensen — included Canadian filmmaker François Girard, German performer Ute Lemper, Iranian artist Naeemeh Naeemaei, American-Canadian soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and Canadian composer Howard Shore.


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