Opera’s Jessye Norman Finds Her Voice in ‘Stand Up Straight and Sing!’

Jessye Norman’s once-in-a-century voice has carried her from 1960s segregated Augusta, Ga., to the opera houses and recital halls of Europe, Asia and America. Norman tells her extraordinary story in a just-published memoir, Stand Up Straight and Sing! Despite racism, Norman describes a happy childhood. She grew up in Augusta surrounded by a large, loving family and a warm community of neighbors and teachers. At the center stood their church. Her parents and older siblings were active in the civil rights …

Postal worker doubles as Hermès scarf illustrator

A 69-year-old post office worker who renders paintings for silk scarves that retail for over $300? Yep. Recently I stumbled across a Texas Monthly article that profiled Kermit Oliver, “one of the most important living African-American painters” and the “only American artist to design a scarf for Hermès,” an ultra-luxury French brand. The introverted Oliver, who still works the graveyard shift at his local Waco, Texas, post office, was first offered the gig in 1980.  The president of Hermès’ U.S. operations …

Louis Vuitton’s 83 Year Old ‘IT’ girl

I’m obsessed with Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama for lots of reasons but one sentence can sum it up: She’s inspiring. Kusama, 83, has chosen to live in Japan’s Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill for about 30 years for multiple issues, and has still created art that is in worldwide demand. She is best known as an avant-garde, pop art purveyor of repetition and patterns (see video,to the right). But she also shines as an abstract artist, providing a minimalist perspective that has been recognized and …