Junior Sings Herself into the Satin Dolls


Ryan joined the Satin Dolls to continue pursuing her love for music.

In April 2022, Madeline Ryan, FCRH ’24, mounted the stage with the Fordham Satin Dolls a cappella group to perform her first solo, “Somebody That I Used to Know” by Goyte. The performance received roaring applause, but that was not Ryan’s first time in the spotlight. 

Ryan started her musical career by playing the piano when she was four years old. Later, when she was about nine years old, she picked up the violin. She was enrolled in an afterschool music education program that jump-started her enthusiasm and knowledge of the art. 

“I had performances, [music] theory tests, music camps and stuff like that. It inspired me to continue music and eventually to take singing lessons.”  

And while musically inclined from a young age, Ryan only started singing during her sophomore year of high school. She described her singing as a “pretty recent” addition to her musical repertoire. In high school, she sang in state and regional choirs, but she eventually found a home in a cappella. She first joined her school’s pop a cappella group, and the following year, she got into the more “classical” group. That group, called Triple Trio, was one of Ryan’s favorite parts of her time in high school. 

“I took a lot away from [Triple Trio]. It was a smaller group. There were nine girls. It was a pretty close-knit group,” said Ryan. “It really taught me singing performance and stage performance because before, I had only performed singing behind a piano or holding a violin. Singing with just your voice is very different, at least to me.”

As a member of Triple Trio, Ryan got the opportunity to work as a cast member at the Texas State Renaissance Festival. The group would dress up in costume and perform songs like “Sky Boat,” “Green Sleeves,” “Lavender’s Blue” and other music of the time period. 

“It was such a fun opportunity and one of the best things about high school,” said Ryan. 

Because of her time in music in high school, coming to Fordham, Ryan was excited to join the on-campus music groups. Her sophomore year, she found herself a part of the Satin Dolls, Fordham’s all-female, femme a cappella group. Starting fall 2022, she became treasurer of the group. 

“I decided to audition for the music groups, and I got into [the Satin Dolls]. And that’s been my life ever since. It’s been even more my life since I became the treasurer. It’s been an integral part of who I am at Fordham, and Fordham would not be what it is to me without the Satin Dolls,” said Ryan. 

Ryan said that her experiences singing with the Satin Dolls had expanded on the lessons she learned about singing in high school. The Satin Dolls are completely student-run, all the way from the leader of the group to the music directors. 

“Obviously, when you’re in high school, you’re being led by a teacher,” said Ryan. “Here it’s a student-led group and a student-led executive board, so the Satin Dolls taught me more independence. In high school, Triple Trio taught me teamwork, and [the Satin Dolls] have enhanced that. You’re only working with your peers and that can be hard.” 

Ryan decided to become the Satin Dolls’ treasurer because she felt it was a way to give back to the group. 

“The treasurer is in charge of the money for the Satin Dolls. Managing money felt like a good way to contribute to the group because we need it to put on concerts, get merchandise and just to do what we want to do as a group,” said Ryan.  

Joining the leadership of the Satin Dolls has also given Ryan a new perspective on what they create. She said working closely with the music directors who create the musical arrangements that the group performs has given her a new appreciation for what they do and a sense of pride when they perfect a song.

“It’s really rewarding to see your music directors and assistant music director’s work come to fruition. It’s really fun to hear how talented everyone is around you,” said Ryan. 

Ryan feels at home among the lights of the stage and the sounds of her fellow group members singing. To her, singing is therapeutic and a mechanism to help her connect with her surroundings. 

“I’m really grateful to have the chance to sing at college. I don’t think I would be the same without it.”