Sean Forbes is a person we believe to be a significant bullet point in the evolution of our species. Not necessarily the evolution of our physical prowess or general dexterity — but rather, the evolution of the mind pertaining to potential capabilities the majority of us are unaware we can attain. Forbes, as he so bluntly states in the chorus to his upcoming video single "I'm Deaf," which drops on May 20th, is, in fact, deaf. The shock of his ability to enunciate his sometimes satirical, sometimes crass, always sincere hip-hop lyrics is overwhelming. "If it wasn't for my deafness, I would have never met many of the great people in the deaf community that I call my friends and family. I wouldn't trade it for anything else — this is who I am, and I'm damn proud to own it."
This 26-year-old man is the son of country musicians who suffered the complete loss of his hearing as a very young child. He has since become an inspiration for the deaf community, as a musician and by founding the non-profit organization, D-PAN (Deaf Professional Arts Network). D-PAN's primary focus is creating deaf-centric entertainment, and expanding opportunities in the music industry for those who are hard of hearing. D-PAN takes existing, uplifting pop songs such as Eminem's "Lose Yourself" and Christina Aguilera's "I am Beautiful" and reinvents videos for them with a strong focus on visuals and American Sign Language (ASL); of which Forbes is a master. Of his own songs, Forbes says, "Performing my original material, I definitely don't sign the proper way. I have my own style just like many other people who use sign language. I will probably get some flack from the deaf community for it. Music breaks all the rules in the English language. Just think how many songs use the word 'ain't' in it — not proper English, but it's a great word for songwriting. To me, it's about the emotion of my songs." Besides, he says, "My dad always told me that even when hearing people listen to music, they screw up the lyrics to songs. I have read about song lyrics like CCR's 'There's a Bad Moon on the Rise' — many people thought it said 'There's a bathroom on the right.' Vinnie Dombroski [of Sponge] always says that I'm blazing new trails and the last thing I want is for original, music signed songs to become too rigid and sterile."
Forbes recently signed with music publishing giant BMI. "The movie industry is opening up to many new artists; it's a natural business move to partner with a company that is helping promote me as a writer." In fact, BMI will feature Forbes in the June edition of their trade magazine, MusicWorld, read by thousands of industry types and artists. "My first order of business is to release my new material, spread my message and then approach other artists and filmmakers ... I would love to write for others and write songs for movies." | RDW
Have a listen to what Forbes has got to say at his album release party on May 20th at Memphis Smoke in Royal Oak.
If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing? Or what would your parents want you to do?
My parents always told me to do what I wanted; they always had certain expectations as they knew I could do anything ... I would probably be a secret agent for the CIA or FBI, reading lips.
What was your career aspiration in first grade?
I wanted to be a rock star from the get-go.
If we read your autobiography, what fact would surprise us the most?
How profound my hearing loss really is. People always forget I'm deaf because of how well I can talk.