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On the occasion of her new memoir, one of America’s most beloved and accomplished classical singers shares her life story: a descendant of generations of hardworking slaves and free ancestors who grew up amid the challenges of Jim Crow racism in the south as the civil rights movement was at its nascence. Nurtured by a close family and a tight-knit community centered on the local church, Jessye Norman grew up singing songs and spirituals within a tight-knit community. Decades later, after a meteoric rise at the Berlin Opera, a debut at the Metropolitan Opera and forays into blues, jazz and other roots music she has become one of America’s cultural treasures. Join us for an evening with an inspiring artist who has lead an astonishing life.

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Jessye Norman

Jessye Norman is one of America’s greatest and most accomplished classical singers, with five Grammy Awards, dozens of international prizes, and a Kennedy Center Honor (its youngest-ever recipient) among her countless awards. She was born in segregated Augusta, Georgia during the Jim Crow era, and was inspired by singer Marian Anderson and by her loving and supportive parents who insisted that all four of their children live up to the highest possible standards. She pursued music at Howard University and the University of Michigan, and achieved early success with a contract from the Berlin Opera. Her career since then has reached from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera to concerts in honor of the Dalai Lama, the bicentennial of the French republic, as well as multi-media presentations of American roots music.


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Deborah Borda

Prior to becoming President and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2000, Deborah Borda was Executive Director at the New York Philharmonic and General Manager of the San Francisco Symphony. Under Borda’s leadership, the orchestra is building new bridges to the community, among them the educational initiative YOLA. As Executive Producer, Borda implemented LA Phil LIVE concert transmissions to more than 500 movie theaters. Most recently, Borda launched Take A Stand, a bicoastal partnership with the Longy School of Music and Bard College which supports social change through music.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the reservation policy for ALOUD?

    As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at 7 PM.

  • Why do programs fill so quickly?

    ALOUD provides a unique experience for the public to engage with scholars, authors, and artists in the intimate 235-seat Mark Taper Auditorium. Library Foundation Members have the benefit of reserving for programs in advance of the public. Consider joining as a Member to receive this benefit, and check the website on an on-going basis for program availability. Be sure to subscribe to our email alerts, and visit our Media Archive for podcasts and other items from our recent programs.

  • Where does ALOUD take place?

    Unless otherwise noted, ALOUD programs are held at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium.

  • Where should I park for ALOUD programs?

    We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.

  • Should I purchase the author’s book in advance?

    We encourage you to purchase books from the Library Store. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Books are made available for purchase when you reserve for a program online, and are also on sale at programs. In order to participate in the book signing, you must purchase at least one book from The Library Store. Members receive discounts on purchases.


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