Louth author documents a life in music documented in new book
Respected contralto Norma Procter, who died in 2017, rose to fame in the 1950s and counted Dame Joan Sutherland, Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears among her friends and contemporaries.
She performed at the Royal Opera House, as well as many other of the world’s well-known stages and released several albums.
She left behind a vast archive, containing many years of diaries, photographs, programmes, and memorabilia from her decades-long career, inside her home in Cleethorpes, where she lived for most of her life.
The material has been used by local history author Lucy Wood to write ‘Norma Procter – Her Life In Music’.
Lucy said: “It is the first time her life has been documented in its entirety.
“We are so fortunate that Norma was so meticulous.
“Almost every programme had a handwritten note on it, recalling her memories, and her diaries show just how gruelling a schedule she had.
“Many people in the area will know of and remember her, but what some might not realise is how huge the contribution she made to music really was.”
It has taken Lucy more than two years to research and write the book.
She was approached by Dawn Stewart, one of Norma’s singing pupils, who became the custodian of the archive.
Dawn, herself a singer, was tutored by Norma for many years and were close friends.
She said: “Norma began singing when she was very small and began winning awards at festivals in Grimsby and Cleethorpes from the age of seven.
“She was 18 when she sang her first solo Messiah, one of her all-time favourite pieces, and soon after, her star rose.”
Whenever Norma performed in Lincolnshire, the concerts were a hit with loyal audiences.
She died aged 89, five years after a Parkinson’s diagnosis, and her archive is now permanently housed with Britten Pears Arts, in Suffolk, home of the organisation dedicated to Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears.
The organisation described the collection as a unique example of the “important place in the British music scene of the 20th century” that Norma held.
Aside from her singing, Norma’s father, John Procter, was well-known throughout Lincolnshire as a racehorse owner.
His horse, Sheila’s Cottage, famously won the Grand National in 1948, and this event is a significant one in the book.
Norma Procter – Her Life In Music is available now from Amazon or Lulu.com in paperback and e-book.
Signed copies are available from Lucy direct, by emailing [email protected].
To find out more about Norma, visit www.facebook.com/normaproctercontralto