Meet me in the middle of the night
Let me hear you say everything's alright
Let me smell the moon in your perfume
— “Romeo’s Tune”
Singer-songwriter Steve Forbert had his first major hit in 1979 when he was only 25 years old, shortly after moving to New York City from his hometown of Meridian, Miss where he had been working as a truck driver. Thirty-plus years later, he’s still writing acclaimed songs and has released 14 studio albums, including a Grammy-nominated tribute to another Mississippi legend, Jimmie Rodgers. He performs around the world and even finds time to pursue his latest artistic adventure, this time in photography: an exhibit of his cell phone photographs recently opened at a Nashville art gallery.
Born in Meridian in 1954, Forbert began playing on a plastic guitar, graduating to a real guitar and taking lessons in a converted chicken shack for $1.50 an hour. He formed a band called The Epics when he was 14. They had a steady gig performing at dances at the local mental institution on Saturday mornings. From those humble beginnings Steve eventually moved to New York City to focus on his music, and found that his artful mixture of introspective pop, rock, folk, country and soul could not be ignored by the music industry.
In 1978, just months after arriving in the big city, Forbert signed his first record deal with CBS Records. His debut album, Alive On Arrival, showcased his distinctive musicality and became one of the year's most acclaimed albums. After being compared to folk-based stars like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, Forbert still managed to forge his own, more modern path with his hit sophomore record Jackrabbit Slim. The highlight of the album was the #11 Billboard hit “Romeo’s Tune:” an upbeat song with timeless lyrics sweetened by a poetic
sensibility, which has since become Steve’s signature style. Forbert’s intimate verbal imagery, paired with a roots-rocking musical approach, struck a chord with millions of people during the transitional period between ‘70s folk-rock and ‘80s New Wave. His brash-yet-sensitive take on songwriting and his unaffected delivery propelled the album up the charts, leading to sold-out shows and a
feature in Rolling Stone magazine and even a high profile cameo a Cyndi Lauper’s tux-wearing, flower-toting boyfriend at the end of the “Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun” video from 1983.
After a great run on the rock and roll main stage, Steve went looking for new inspiration and found it when he relocated to Nashville in the mid-1980’s, where his new works and his legacy have continued to attract recognition and new fans. Steve was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in 2006, and “Romeo’s Tune” was covered by Keith Urban in 2007. More recently he has written songs for the Occupy Wall St. movement and has re-released some of his earlier recordings on CD for the first time. While living in Music City, Steve has further honed his skills as a songwriter and performer and continued to blend folk, rock and country into his unique American sound, and has released a series of critically-acclaimed recordings. His 2009 release, The Place and the Time (429 Records), was reviewed in The Huffington Post as “all prime Steve Forbert, who is writing at his best.”
Over With You, Forbert’s first studio album in three years, is a focused song cycle featuring an earnest account of the often-mixed emotions involved in personal relationships. Musical backing on the record includes Ben Sollee on cello and bass, with Ben Harper guesting on guitar on several tracks. Reviews have been strong, with American Songwriter gushing “It’s all lovely, melancholy, lyrically moving and beautifully performed.”