Art and politics sometimes make for uncomfortable bedfellows, but every now and then they come together in the complete package. About half an hour into our conversation I ask the great soprano Jessye Norman if she is still a Democrat? “Absolutely, God!” she exclaims. “With all that is going on on the other side, more loudly than ever. It’s truly frightening what could happen if we are not vigilant. It would be a tragedy for the world, and certainly a tragedy for the United States.”

It’s truly frightening, what could happen, if we’re not vigilant. It would be a tragedy for the world

Direct, spontaneous statements have earned Norman a reputation for outspokenness and honesty, sometimes rare in a profession where people may feel a guarded approach oils the wheels that get you to the top. She can also be fearsomely determined – a handful, according to some – and I’ll admit to some trepidation prior to our encounter. The presence on the other end of the phone, however, is warm, friendly and relaxed, sympathising with me for having had to traipse into the office for a 7:30am interview. Over the following 40 minutes she’s candid...

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