Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) alumnus and deaf musician Sean Forbes, accompanied by pianist Jake Bass and guitarist Mark Levin, blew the audiences away last Friday night, Jan. 25.
The event in Todd Theatre started with Forbes speaking about his life and how he developed his career in the music business. Forbes repeatedly emphasized that his primary mission was to “make music accessible for the deaf community.” He does not want merely to write songs about experiences unique to the deaf, but to perform songs with more general themes and make music accessible to the deaf.
Many audience members seemed interested in his work with Marlee Matlin; known for her role as Emmett’s mother on “Switched at Birth.” Matlin is a well known actress who is also deaf.
Forbes also mentioned how lucky he was to develop a career in the age of technology and video. He said he’s gained a lot of popularity and many opportunities simply through Facebook and YouTube.
Finally, once the audience was done with questions, Forbes shouted, “Are you ready?” and everyone nodded, remaining silent. “Come on! Make some noise!” Sean shouted and, after some chuckles from the audience, the crowd suddenly burst into an uproar both audibly and visually, shouting and waving to express excitement in all possible forms.
Signers and non-signers alike started singing along with him as he performed, pounding at the air to the beat of his song “Hammering” and gesturing in sync with his other hip-hop songs.
It was a fantastic sight to see the hearing and deaf cultures united under one roof through music and sign language, all cleverly fused into a single performance. All members, including those of the Rochester community and beyond, were able to appreciate the art of what Forbes brought to the stage. This eclectic group included students from UR, Nazareth College, RIT, and local high schools.
Overall, it was a great show to bring two very different cultures together.
Pellicano is a member of the class of 2013.