Who is Renee Fleming's husband? Here's how blind date gave soprano love of her life

Renee Fleming married actor Rick Ross in 1989 and the two had two daughters but the couple divorced in 2000

                            Who is Renee Fleming's husband? Here's how blind date gave soprano love of her life
Renee Fleming and Tim Jessel attends the 72nd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)

PBS will feature Vanessa Williams singing the Black National Anthem during its July 4 celebration. The decision comes in the wake of Juneteenth being made a federal holiday. But even as Williams will perform the song 'Lift Every Voice and Sing' while hosting PBS' 41st 'A Capitol Fourth' annual celebration on Sunday, the US National Anthem will also be sung.

The US National Anthem will be performed by Grammy Award-winning singer Renee Fleming, who will open the show with a special performance of the traditional tune. Several other singers and musicians will also be performing a variety of different tunes during the celebration including Gladys Knight, Jimmy Buffet, Cynthia Erivo, and Alan Jackson.


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Actress and singer Vanessa Williams attends the Apollo Theater 2005 Spring Benefit "The Magic Lives On" at the Apollo Theater on June 20, 2005, in New York City (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)

Who is Renee Fleming’s husband?

Fleming married actor Rick Ross in 1989. The two had two daughters. The couple divorced in 2000. The soprano then got married again a little more than a decade later. On September 3, 2011, Fleming married Tim Jessell. The wedding took place over Labor Day weekend in upstate New York. It was reportedly a small ceremony for close family and friends.

Jessel, a corporate lawyer who then worked at Greenberg Traurig, reportedly met Fleming on a blind date in DC in 2008. The two were set up by author Ann Patchett. The couple got engaged in early 2011. As per a 2020 feature, Jessell, a father of three, had “given up on love in 2008” when he was set up. Fleming reportedly had also given up on love.

After her divorce from Ross, Fleming was “single for a long time.” She said, “And there was a period in which I just felt really angry about the fact that it’s hard for accomplished, gifted women to be with men of similar talents.” Before moving in together, Jessel said, “She told me she was bringing her piano. That was serious.” Jessell, a sports fan, and a Bruce Springsteen fan, knew nothing about opera before their first date. 

Opera singer and soprano Renee Fleming and her husband, Tim Jessell,arrive for the formal Artist's Dinner honoring the recipients of the 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors hosted by United States Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan at the US Department of State in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, December 1, 2018 (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)

The Black National Anthem

‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ is often referred to as the Black national anthem. The hymn was written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson in 1900 and set to music by his brother, J Rosamond Johnson, for the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday in 1905. Earlier this year, on February 7, Alicia Keys recorded a version that was aired as part of the pre-game show of Super Bowl LV.

Williams said her performance of the song will not only honor the nation's traditional Independence Day, but also the country's newly designated holiday, Juneteenth. “It's in celebration of the wonderful opportunity that we now have to celebrate Juneteenth. So we are reflective of the times,” she told the Associated Press. 

PBS’ decision to feature the Black National Anthem has caused some controversy. Many on social media have called it divisive. This also comes just days after the controversy over Gwen Berry turning her back while the National Anthem was played. The Olympic hammer thrower turned away during the games qualifiers last week and draped a black t-shirt with the words 'Activist Athlete' emblazoned on over her head when the anthem played. 

“I feel like it was set up,” Berry said. “I feel like they did that on purpose, and I was pissed, to be honest. I was thinking about what should I do? Eventually, I just stayed there and just swayed. I put my shirt over my head … I know they did that on purpose, but it’ll be all right. I see what’s up.” However, officials said it was purely coincidental, as the anthem was played at about the same time it had played other nights.

Disclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.