Jerry Forman

    “The Prisoner”


    Jerry has studied music all his life. He made his living teaching special education in the public schools of North and West Philadelphia for 30 years. Upon retirement, he moved to Mexico, where he lived happily for 12 years. He planned to start a soul jazz combo and to this end, he returned to his hometown just before the pandemic began. Since then, he’s been rehearsing with two former co-workers and two graduates (class of 2000) of the music program at University City HS, now a parking lot.

    For ten years before Jerry retired, as part of a spiritual outreach program, he used to meet once a month with some men at Graterford Penitentiary. At one of these meetings, a man told him that he was a lifer because of a dumb mistake he made as a young man. He told Jerry he hadn’t seen the stars since they put spotlights in the parking lot 29 years before. That night, Jerry went home and wrote “The Prisoner”.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal