I wish someone had impressed upon me the benefits of receiving professional instruction. I never took a singing lesson. When I sang I simply did what came naturally. Looking back, I would have appreciated any professional instruction or advice to improve the quality of voice.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Madeline Forman, former vocal artist during the years right after the Great Depression from Newark, N.J. who gave up her career to earn a living in the post -depression era. She has just released her recordings from that era, on a new CD, entitled, “Madeline.”
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
As a young girl growing up during the Depression in the projects of Newark, New Jersey, the fourth of five children. Unfortunately, we were quite poor. My father sold fruit from a pushcart. I dreamed of the day when I could afford to move out of the housing projects. Even as a young child I loved to sing-anytime, anywhere. When I was growing up, there was a very popular theater in Newark called the Adams Theatre. During the time, artists performing there included Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Tommy Dorsey and The Andrew Sisters. While in high school, I heard about a talent contest at the Adams Theatre. So, I entered it and won! Winning the contest gave me the confidence to pursue a singing career. Eventually, I was able to save enough money to record several songs at The Hertz Recoding Studio in Newark, NJ in 1946. As the financial status of my family continued to worsen I became a secretary to secure a steady source of income. My “singing career” therefore came to an end, before the age of 21. At the time, I did what I had to do to help my family.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
As I previously mentioned, when I was a teenager I won a talent contest at the Adams Theatre. The MC of the contest was a comedian named Joey Adams. After the show he told me that I was very talented and that I should seriously consider a career in music. That gave me the confidence to pursue a singing career.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
While on my honeymoon, in 1953, I stayed at The Nevele Hotel in the Catskill Mountains of New York. One evening, my husband and I attended a show at the hotel where the house band was playing. At one point the bandleader invited anyone from the audience who could sing to come up on stage and join the band. So I immediately ran up to volunteer. When I finished singing the bandleader offered me a job with the band right there on the spot. I turned to him, pointed to the audience and said “I have witnesses to the offer.” Of course I was joking. At that point in my life I was a newlywed looking to start a family.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
My new CD “Madeline” which is the focal point of this interview. I am overwhelmed by the compliments and warm response to my music. I could not be more appreciative. I am so flattered that you were interested in interviewing me. I owe everything to Howie Forman who remastered my songs, produced my CD, and continues to coordinate the project.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity as represented by individuals of different ethnicities, genders, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds, is essential to the ongoing evolution of the entertainment industry. The absence of diversity and the exclusion of performing artists based upon their cultural background impedes our development as a society. We are intellectually elevated by the positive contributions of artists of diverse cultures. The appreciation of diverse talent within the entertainment industry leads to greater mutual respect, compassion, and intelligence in our society.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I wish someone had impressed upon me the benefits of receiving professional instruction. I never took a singing lesson. When I sang I simply did what came naturally. Looking back, I would have appreciated any professional instruction or advice to improve the quality of voice.
- I wish someone would have told me to get an agent to represent me, to ensure greater exposure and singing opportunities, and provide career and financial advice.
- I wish someone would have encouraged me to pursue a singing career while keeping my job as a secretary to financially assist my family.
- I wish someone would have told me that despite the challenges and obstacles that one may face in life, sometimes with a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck, success can be achieved.
- I wish someone would have warned me how difficult it would be to see Frank Sinatra in concert. You have no idea how much time and effort it took to get Sinatra tickets.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would advise them to secure a good base of support composed of family and/or friends and to lead a balanced life with reference to relationships and interests outside the entertainment industry.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
At this time, I believe that race relations in America have deteriorated because of the lack of mutual respect, empathy and communication. We live in very challenging times due in large part, to a toxic political climate.
I fully support any movement that would help to resolve this issue. In the words of the late Elijah Cummings, “We’re better than this.”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am particularly grateful to my nephew, Howard Forman. He is a gifted musician and record producer in Montreal, Canada. As I previously mentioned, he launched the project for the production of my CD and all of the attention it has generated.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Sometimes when you least expect it, good things happen.” I could never have imagined that after almost 60 years I can listen to my music again. It brings back such vivid memories of me standing on stage and singing. Just singing and making people smile. It was truly my one great passion. Who would have thought that in 2020 people would say to me “Your music brings back such fond memories of my youth.” Amazing.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Not just one person, but two. I would love to sit down with Patti Scialfa and Bruce Springsteen. They are both wonderfully talented and extremely generous with their time and money regarding the state of New Jersey. Interestingly enough, Patti’s father and my husband grew up together in the same neighborhood in Long Branch, NJ.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!