Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Mystery of Madelaine

I keep coming across things related to Belgian singer song-writer Sœur Sourire / Sister Smile, aka "The Singing Nun," aka Sœur Luc Gabrielle, i.e. Jeanine Deckers (1933-1985). She's the one who had an international mega-hit with "Dominique," which she wrote and performed in the early 1960s. The excitement continued right through the 1960s, and indeed, "Dominique" makes an appearance on the AMC series Mad Men, which is set in the 1960s.

Given the popularity of the idea of the singing nun, combined with the catchy "Dominique" and a few other perky-sounding songs, spin-offs seem to have abounded. Debbie Reynolds starred in Henry Koster's (final) film, The Singing Nun (1965) -- which also featured Ricardo Montalbán, Katharine Ross, Chad Everett and Agnes Morehead -- while Sally Field starred in The Flying Nun (1967-1970).

Whereupon we come to "Madelaine." Who was and/or is she?  I came across this record from 1963: Sister Adele / Dominique / Ten Other Songs Sung by Madelaine (Diplomat Records 2303). The cover shows a semi-concealed woman in nun's habit apparently playing an acoustic guitar, smiling, sitting across from four kids dressed in vaguely exotic outfits seated on benches, set somewhere on the edge of a wooded area that looks like the backdrop for a Godard film. There are no song credits, and there's no explanation of who the singer is. On the back cover, there is this: FINE RECORDS NEED NOT BE EXPENSIVE.

The more typical spellings of "the singer's" name would be Madeleine or Madeline, derived from Mary Magdalene. Did "Madelaine" really exist as a person, or was this a quick money-making scheme to cash in on Sister Smile's success? After all, given the record design of this "album," how would anyone in the general listening public have known the difference? Somebody did the vocals. Your thoughts? 

Today's Rune: Fertility.      

1 comment:

jodi said...

Erik, I remember that tune, but it seemed much later. Like maybe late seventies. Wonder what became of here?