Academy of Achievement Logo
Home
Achiever Gallery
Keys to Success
 Passion
 Vision
 Preparation
 Courage
   + [ Perseverance ]
 Integrity
 The American Dream
Achievement Podcasts
About the Academy
For Teachers

Search the site

Academy Careers

 
 
Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


Jessye Norman

Legendary Opera Soprano

On the way back from Philadelphia, because my teacher who was accompanying me -- Rosa Sanders, my high school music teacher was accompanying me -- we stopped in Washington, because we both had relatives here. We were sort of visiting near the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and all of that, and in the middle of the day she said, "Why don't we find out if anybody at Howard University is there and will listen to you sing?" I said, "Well, that sounds like fun." You know, at that time you don't care that you're tired and sort of perspiring from sightseeing all day long. It never occurs to you that you can't sing. And so she knew one of the professors at Howard because he had been a professor at Paine College in Augusta when she had been a student, and that's where she'd gone to school. So we just called this person, Dean Fax was his name, Mark Fax. And by now he was on faculty at the College of Fine Arts at Howard and so we called and he said, "Well why not? There's a class this afternoon that's a master's degree class in vocal anatomy, so you can sing for that class." I said, "Why not? That's fine." So along we went, and sang for that class, interrupted their studies and just sort of knocked on the door. The professor at the time was told that I was there, and so she welcomed us into the class, where there was a small piano. I sang a few songs, and that professor happened to be Carolyn Grant, who had been professor of voice at Howard University for about 42 years at the time. She accompanied me and my teacher out of the room once we finished our little performance, and she said, "How old are you?" And so I said, "I'm 16. I've just turned 16. I'm all grown up!" So she said, "Well, where are you in high school?" I said, "I've got another year." She said, "Well I suppose you'd have to finish high school before you could come to school here," and I said, "Come to school here?" At that moment, she went down to the dean of the college and said, "I want to teach this child. Make sure that she comes to Howard University." That's how I happened to have a scholarship to Howard University. I know, it's all fairy tales, isn't it?
View Interview with Jessye Norman
View Biography of Jessye Norman
View Profile of Jessye Norman
View Photo Gallery of Jessye Norman



Jessye Norman

Legendary Opera Soprano

Jessye Norman: I have learned that achievement is ongoing. It's like learning, that you don't -- certainly within my performing life -- you don't get to a point where you can say, "Now I can rest. I've done that, so now I can sit on laurels." That's not the case. There's always someone in the audience who's never heard you before. There's always something new that I'm performing for the first time. I like that. I love that. On a tour, I never sing exactly the same program everywhere. I want the excitement of knowing, "Oh yes. Well, we didn't do that Cole Porter song in that group in Paris, but we're doing it in Lyon," because that keeps things fresh for me. I hope that it also keeps things more interesting for the audience. But certainly, I have learned that one has to go on achieving, that one doesn't get to a level to say, "Okay, now I'm fine, don't have to worry any more." No, no, no. I don't think that happens.
View Interview with Jessye Norman
View Biography of Jessye Norman
View Profile of Jessye Norman
View Photo Gallery of Jessye Norman



Antonia Novello

Former Surgeon General of the United States

In my junior year in college, I had one of the biggest surgeries to correct the complications of the eighteenth birthday surgery. And some other kid would have said, "I'm sick. I'm going to take music appreciation, art." I took that semester -- as a denial -- calculus, trigonometry, quantitative chemistry, everything that made me believe that I was not sick. But the part was, that in those six months, I had to wear Pampers to go to college and no one ever knew because I was not about to show it. And I continued to laugh at this little incidental in my life while I was showing that my brain was still okay. So that taught me one thing which I think sometimes is useful and sometimes is not. I have this inability to feel for the ones who use disease to not do what they are supposed to do. Because, believe me, if I did it, then anyone can, because there will be the plugging of the microscope, the plugging of the heating pad and the every five minutes going to the bathroom because I had to, until I had my last surgery.
View Interview with Antonia Novello
View Biography of Antonia Novello
View Profile of Antonia Novello
View Photo Gallery of Antonia Novello



Antonia Novello

Former Surgeon General of the United States

I told Mommy, "I'm quitting. It's getting hard to plug the microscope and plug the heating pad." She said, "I'll go with you and we quit together." At that moment, I said, "Oh, no. I'm not quitting." If Mommy would have been the one who said, "No you won't," I would have. But, she always felt, "You must be very sick to want to quit now. You want it? We go."
View Interview with Antonia Novello
View Biography of Antonia Novello
View Profile of Antonia Novello
View Photo Gallery of Antonia Novello



Sir Trevor Nunn

Theatrical Director

When we did this huge derring-do stage production of Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby, which was -- I mean, that was an absolute last throw of the dice for the RSC. We were in such terrible financial circumstance that I was employing a company of 50 actors, and I only had money for one production, and no play has been written that provides for 50 roles. And I had a whole company desperate for work, and I didn't want to get rid of anybody. And I suddenly had the idea that I could go to Dickens. And it suddenly occurred to me that Dickens was the greatest dramatist who never wrote a play. And I could take all of that material and make a stage work with this wonderful company of actors, and we did. And a colleague of mine, John Caird, co-directed the show with me. And we had this eight-and-a-half-hour show that become a kind of legend in London, and then we took it to Broadway and we won all the Tony Awards. And then we televised it and won the Emmy Award for it. So, it was evidence that things can be born of the most extreme desperation.
View Interview with Sir Trevor Nunn
View Biography of Sir Trevor Nunn
View Profile of Sir Trevor Nunn
View Photo Gallery of Sir Trevor Nunn



Sir Trevor Nunn

Theatrical Director

Sir Trevor Nunn: I guess the same applies to the decision to do Les Miserables. I knew that there would be a lot of people writing for the serious press, or representing the serious media in England who would say, "But, it's outrageous that one of our premier subsidized theater companies should be doing something that is appropriate to the commercial sphere." I believe that, on the contrary, it was entirely appropriate for a classical theater company to say, "We are going to take a great 19th century novel -- a complex 19th century novel -- about justice and about faith, and we are going to make a musical the like of which hasn't previously occurred. I mean, it's going to have a seriousness and a moral complexity, and a political message that hasn't previously been in the musical theater." But again, you know, just before we got started, I remember feeling extreme pangs of terror, you know. The kind of "Maybe I should call this off." Maybe I shouldn't give those people in the media the chance to say, "You see, we told you that this was disgraceful and it shouldn't happen." But in each case, you go through that cold terror and you come out strengthened by it. Therefore, when I was asked recently, "Would you consider going back into the subsidized spectrum? Would you become the next director of The National Theater?" I experienced two things. Unquestionably, I experienced that feeling of, "That's where I can be sure of maintaining my integrity, so I want to do it." The second feeling was of absolute terror because wonderful people have done the job up until now. Its reputation is unparalleled. The expectation is extremely high. Why put yourself on the line? So that, in the end people will say, "He did okay for a while, but then he did the National Theatre and completely screwed up."
View Interview with Sir Trevor Nunn
View Biography of Sir Trevor Nunn
View Profile of Sir Trevor Nunn
View Photo Gallery of Sir Trevor Nunn



Browse Perseverance quotes by achiever last name

Previous Page

          

Next Page