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When Nora Jane Struthers' Identity Was Stolen, She Created A New One

Nora Jane Struthers' new album is titled <em>Wake</em>.
Courtesy of the artist
Nora Jane Struthers' new album is titled Wake.

Nora Jane Struthers may never have become a singer-songwriter if her identity hadn't been stolen. Rebuilding her life allowed her to take a risk and do something she'd wanted to for years. It paid off: She has a new album out titled Wake.

Her story begins at a charter school in Brooklyn where Struthers worked as an English teacher.

"I started teaching sophomores and moved to teaching seniors in my last year," Struthers says. "I loved it."

Then, she got into a relationship.

"I started dating the art teacher," she says. "We both started talking about the possibility of moving out of the city and he could do art and I could do music and we could move somewhere together and sort of start a new creative life."

Just as they started to plan their future, Struthers received a letter in the mail. It was from a bank about a check that had been deposited in an account that she didn't know about.

"The check was actually a check that was made out to me that I was expecting and had never received," Struthers says. "I was obviously distressed because someone had stolen my identity."

A month later, a credit bureau called with new information. There was a name that kept appearing on the new accounts.

It was her boyfriend.

"She also told me that he had opened an account on my credit card and charged a new computer to it," she says. "And so I just totally lost it."

When she returned to her classroom, the principal at the charter school pulled her aside to inform her that her boyfriend had also forged his teaching certificate.

"It was just such an incredible shock," she says. "I was just ready for a brand new start. I was kind of over New York but I had a friend who was living in Nashville and he invited me to come down. I just thought, 'Why not? It's Music City, after all.' "

As soon as the school year ended, she packed her bags, hopped in her parents' minivan, and drove down to Tennessee.

"I just remember feeling like I escaped," she says. "I escaped a life that I was building for myself and thought was going to make me happy. ... My boyfriend stole my identity and the poetic irony is that it allowed me to create a new one in which I'm both incredibly fulfilled and have found true love."

Hear the full piece at the audio link.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR Staff