You never know what you’ll find when you clean out your closets. People all over the country have spent the pandemic streamlining their stuff, but none to such astounding results as Madeline Forman of West Long Branch, New Jersey.
She lived a quiet life in New Jersey, until the recordings were found and a passion rediscovered.
While Forman, 94, and her husband were in the midst of their clutter-busting, she found a dusty box filled with recordings of herself singing. For 75 years it had been buried in a closet. The background on the recordings is scratchy, but the voice, clear and lilting, is singing “Don’t Take Your Love From Me” and other oldies. Back in 1946, Forman had paid a few dollars to record some songs at a Newark studio and walked away with a 78 r.p.m. record that soon was forgotten.
With the discovery of the recording, Forman was taken back to her youth, when she won talent shows and sung every chance she got. But because money was so tight then, she didn’t have the luxury of pursuing a singing career.
Now she has the time, and still has a strong voice. Her new recordings have garnered an outpouring of love and support and 176,000-plus downloads.
No Time to Sing
Forman’s father was a Russian immigrant who sold bananas out of a pushcart in Newark, supporting a family of seven living in a cold-water flat with no heat. Despite her talent, Forman, the second youngest child, had to help support the family and care for her younger brother.
“I sort of learned to put a wall in front of me so I wasn’t disappointed that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do,” Forman told the New York Times.
In March 2021, she was back in the studio, and not just any studio.
Forman went on to have two children with Joe Forman, an accountant, and lived a quiet life in New Jersey, until the recordings were found and a passion rediscovered. Fortuitously, there was a musician in the family who knew what to do next. Joe Forman’s cousin, Howard, an award-winning producer, was able to put together new recordings of Forman singing, including a current version of “Don’t Take Your Love From Me.” Listening to them side by side (the old and the new), you can hear how powerful her voice remains.
During COVID, Forman recorded songs remotely, but in March 2021, she was back in the studio. And not just any studio. She sang at Shorefire Recording Studios in Long Branch–where Bruce Springsteen often records.
Is there anything more life affirming than witnessing someone finally realizing a long-deferred dream?