Sarah Gorby (her real name was Gorbevitsh) was born around the turn of the century in Kishinev, which then belonged to Tsarist Russia. She was the descendant of a mainly Russian-speaking family of ordinary shopkeepers from Poland. At the age of 17, she left home to study music in Jassy (Rumania), and was married to Joseph Goldstein, a newspaper editor much older than she was.
After spending some time in Rome, she settled in Paris with her husband during the 1920s, and performed regularly as a singer, under the name Sarah Goldstein. In the 1930’s, she traveled regularly on tour to South America, and in the United States from 1935 on. In 1940 she fled with her husband to Haiti. She continued her career there as a singer, and performed several times in the United States between 1944 and 1947, before returning to Europe in 1948, for a tour of concerts of Yiddish songs in displaced person’s camps.
Sarah Gorby came back to Paris in 1949, year in which she recorded most of her titles on the Elesdisc label. Her husband, Joseph Goldstein, passed away in 1950 in Haiti, and she therefore settled definitely in Paris. Even though she spent several months a year abroad (in South America, South Africa and Israel), Paris remained her center of gravity until her death in 1980.
Ellen F. Prince, in an article published in 1987, described Sarah Gorby’s talent and love for languages and dialects. Her dominant language was Russian, then Yiddish. She was also proficient in French, Rumanian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German and spoke English fluently, although with a strong Russian accent.
- Booklet of the CD boxset Musiques juives dans le Paris d’après-guerre [Jewish music in Paris in the aftermath of WWII]
- Wikipedia (russe)
- Victor Eskenasy’s article De la Chișinău la Paris: Sarah Gorby o voce extraordinară
See our archives on Sarah Gorby
Listen to the playlist dedicated to Sarah Gorby
Order the CD boxset Musiques juives dans le Paris d’après-guerre [Jewish music in Paris in the aftermath of WWII]