Jessye Norman was one of the reigning divas of opera, and now the world is gathered in remembering the legendary soprano singer after her passing on Monday. The Augusta, Ga. native was born September 15, 1945, and was a champion of diversity in her field and in the arts as well.

Jessye Mae Norman was raised in a musical household and sang in her gospel choir as a child. In high school, Norman entered the Marian Anderson vocal competition in Philadelphia. While she didn’t win, her performance led to a full scholarship to Howard University where she studied voice.