I stepped out of the snow and into the opening day of the Sundance ASCAP Music Café just in time to catch the uplifting acoustic set of Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter/producer John Forté.---
If the name sounds familiar but you just can’t quite place it, there’s good reason. As Forté himself noted after playing an opening song, he has been missing from the music scene for seven long years. The packed ASCAP crowd was rapt as he told that after his early success, most notably with The Fugees, he was handed a 14-year federal prison sentence for a first-time non-violent drug offense. On November 24, 2008 George W. Bush, in what quite possibly could be his single benevolent act while in office, commuted Forté’s sentence, granting him freedom 7 years early.
Before he continued with his set, Forté had to note that with time, his sound has certainly changed—he was all about the whoop and the hand in the air before, whereas now, with acoustic in hand and ass-long dreadlocks to boot, he conjured more of a soul-searching, life-loving Bob Marley.
Forté continued with a series of songs from his new EP, Style Free, augmented with a Kate Bush cover like you’ve never heard one of her songs before, finishing out his set with his favorite song, “Breaking of a Man”—a wrenching tune written from a very personal space that combined both rap and melodic chorus that gave sweet voice to a man filled with high spirits, surprisingly void of any bitterness.
John Forté will play the Sundance ASCAP Café again on Sunday, January 24, 3:20 pm.