Artist Date: John Forte

John Forte is back! Well he’s been “back” for some years now but I’m really feeling his presence. I saw him, in the audience, at both Alice Smith and Nneka shows.

Like when we knew him from his work with the Fugees, he seems to be all about support and collaboration. Check it out:

This song with Valerie June:

A Facebook status update about a collaboration we’ll hopefully soon experience:

His Russian tour (captured in the documentary The Russian Winter) & recent show at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom, both of which featured tons of artists:

I watched The Russian Winter at Tribeca Film Festival.  Though the film mostly focuses on the music and the happenings of the tour, I was inspired by the quick stories he shared about his art evolving during his time in prison.  He started singing and playing guitar while away.  I love his voice so I was surprised to hear that he initially was very self-conscious about it, thinking it would not come across as authentic to others. 

In prefacing his guitar story, he explained that prison meetings were held often, and usually involved rights and privileges being revoked.  He’d only started to learn how to play guitar when prison administration decided it was no longer okay for inmates to have instruments. After talking to his counselor, John decided that the way to keep his connection to his new skill would be to teach a class on playing guitar.  But he only knew 2 chords at the time.  His method was to learn 2 new chords every week and teach those same chords to the men in his class. That is the realest example of teaching as you learn that I have ever heard!

The Russian Winter
is no longer streaming online but look out for Tribeca’s Day in the Life Series with John Forte.

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