Steve Forbert Media Information

Steve Forbert Biography 1

As a young man from Meridian, Mississippi, Steve Forbert traveled to New York City and played guitar for spare change in Grand Central Station. He vaulted to international prominence with a folk-rock hit, “Romeo’s Tune,” during a time when rootsy rock was fading out and the Ramones, Talking Heads and other New Wave and punk acts were moving in to the public consciousness. Still, critics raved about Steve’s poetic lyrics and engaging melodies, and the crowds at CBGB’s club in New York accepted him alongside those acts. “I’ve never been interested in changing what I do to fit emerging trends,” Forbert observes. “Looking back on it, I was helping to keep a particular American songwriting tradition alive at a time when it wasn’t in the spotlight.”

After his first two records came a plethora of well-crafted, unforgettable songs on such albums as Little Stevie Orbit, Streets of This Town, The American in Me, Mission of the Crossroad Palms and Evergreen Boy. His tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, Any Old Time, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2004. In October 2012, 35 years after his first album, Steve has released an exciting new one, Over With You. Its ten fresh but mature songs pinpoint a wide range of emotions that color personal relationships — emotions that most listeners have undoubtedly felt and struggled to understand at some point in their lives. “This is an album that has taken a lifetime to make,” explains Forbert. “You don’t just pull these songs out of thin air — you have to live them.”


Steve Forbert Biography 2

Steve Forbert Rolls With The Changes

“Romeo’s Tune” was the song that gave me a ‘career’,” says Steve Forbert of his signature song and breakthrough hit. “If you can conjure up six or seven hit records, wonderful. But you’ve got to have one. At least it gives you a ticket into the show.”

Even so, a 21-year-old Forbert didn’t leave his home in Meridian, Mississippi for New York driven to make hit records. He just wanted to play. “There weren’t many options in Meridian. We didn’t even have coffee houses. We had pizza joints. I was supposed to go to Millsaps College in Jackson, but I didn’t want to. Instead I went to NY. I had no real plan, I just dove in.”

Like many an aspiring singer/musician/writer/artist/actor before him, he stayed at the YMCA on 23rd Street in the then sketchy Chelsea neighborhood, and eventually made his way over to the even sketchier Bowery, where Hilly Kristal had a club with the quizzical acronym CBGB and OMFUG.

“It stood for Country Bluegrass Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers. That was the kind of music Hilly wanted to do in his bar; today it would be called Americana. It just didn’t turn out that way. Tom Verlaine and Patti Smith were so desperate for somewhere to do their thing that they wandered in there and the rest is punk rock history.”

Forbert’s poetic songs and authentic performances soon snagged music writers’ attention. In 1977, New York Times critic John Rockwell wrote, “What makes him remarkable is that he’s good already, when he’s still growing. And at his frequent best, he’s already a star.”

In 1978, he signed with Nemperor Records and released his wryly titled and critically-lauded debut, Alive on Arrival. In the liner notes for the two-disc set of his first and second albums---along with a dozen rare bonus tracks---released by Blue Corn Music in 2013, Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild recalls Forbert making “…one of music’s greatest entrances ever, arriving fully formed as an extraordinary singer-songwriter.”

He made the most of the acclaim, disproving the sophomore slump theory with Jackrabbit Slim the next year. “I maybe had three songs already written that ended up on that second record, and one of them was “’Romeo.’” Unfortunately the relationship with his label ended and resulted in a five-year gap in new recorded music.

Forbert, who moved to Nashville in 1985, signed with SESAC three years ago and released Over With You, his first studio album in three years.

“The album is a lot of breakup stuff,” he says. “Most pop songs you hear are love songs, so there’s nothing remarkable about this record except it’s really true, and the title song isn’t something I would want to live again. The production is really sparse. You can put it on and it will fly by and it kind of sneaks up on you that you’ve listened to the whole thing. I think that’s good.”

Forbert remains a well-traveled troubadour, performing new songs and pulling from his extensive catalogue, solo or sometimes with a band.

--Kay West


Steve Forbert Biography 3

Steve Forbert’s 1978 debut album proclaimed the singer-songwriter Alive on Arrival and indeed, the artist made a strong impression with a set of personal, sometimes gentle, musical reflections on life and love. Forbert departed Mississippi for New York City in the mid-seventies and managed to carve out a niche in the vibrant club scene of the day, playing famous venues like Gerde’s Folk City and even CBGB’s. That heady period was captured on Alive on Arrival and on Forbert’s 1979 follow-up, Jackrabbit Slim.

Rolling Stone contributing editor, David Wild, recently wrote that "now or then, you would be hard-pressed to find a debut effort that was simultaneously as fresh and accomplished as Alive on Arrival . . . it was like a great first novel by a young author who somehow managed to split the difference between Mark Twain and J.D. Salinger.”

Producer, John Simon, renowned for his collaborations with The Band and Leonard Cohen, shepherded Forbert's second release, Jackrabbit Slim, to success. Forbert credits Simon with helping him nail “Romeo’s Tune” for the Nashville-recorded album, and the song became the artist’s only Top 20 U.S. hit. (It peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.)

Though further chart success has eluded Steve Forbert, he’s continued to write particularly insightful songs and has grown an impressive legacy. His most recent studio album was 2012’s Over with You. He’s received a Grammy nomination, seen his songs performed by Keith Urban, Rosanne Cash and Marty Stuart, and even appeared opposite Cyndi Lauper in her music video for “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Forbert continues to tour, both solo and with his band, and has a string of upcoming dates scheduled both in the United States and abroad.

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Biography and Press: 1980-2013

  Steve Forbert Biography (2012)
  SESAC Magazine (Fall 2013)
  Tinney Contemporary Press Release (October 2011)
  Steve Forbert Coming To The Ark (July 2011)
  Steve Forbert Plays the Narrows Center (March 2011)
  Fine Art From a Cell Phone? (March 2011)
  "Highway of Sight" Press Release (March 2011)
  "The Oil Song" Keeps Steve Forbert Moving (July 2010)
  Oil and Music: A Conversation with Steve Forbert (May 2010)
  Steve Forbert Rescues a Phoenix From the Ashes ( February 2010)
  Pop Culture Press First Listen: Down in Flames (February 2010)
  The Return of Steve Forbert (February 2010)
  The Place and the Time: HuffingtonPost.com (March 2009)
  Roots Artist: Steve Forbert (January 2007)
  "Give Us An Absolute, Songwriter" (February 2005)
  Steve Forbert Interview by Clifford Meth (October 2004)
  Like There's Nothing To It: Pro.qb (March 2004)
  Folkwax: Sittin' In With Steve Forbert (April 2003)
  Songs From the Everyman (February 2002)
  Unsung Singer (September 1999)
  Keeping It Organic (March 1999)
  Tracking Steve Forbert's Last 20 Years in Orbit (October 1998)
  From "Next Bob Dylan" to Underdog (October 1998)
  Rocking Horse Head Review/Interview (1996)
  Steve Forbert Escapes From Hell by Bill Flanagan (October 1988)
  Fireworks by Steve Forbert (July 1984)
  Rolling Stone: Hit and Myth (March 1980)

 

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