John Forté's life has been an amazing story of twists and turns, major accomplishments and hard knocks. Today he tells his story and the lessons learned with music as his vehicle for sharing and healing.
John Forté is famous for his work with the multi-platinum group The Fugees. He wrote and produced two songs on their Grammy winning album, The Score. After the breakup of The Fugees, he recorded two solo albums, PolySci and I, John,which featured industry legends Herbie Hancock and Carly Simon, and will soon release an album titled Water Light Sound. Forté had a rising solo career until his arrest on drug charges in 2000.
Few understand second chances better than John Forté. After serving seven years of a 14-year sentence, he was granted a rare commutation of his sentence by President George W. Bush. His strong advocates included Carly Simon and Sen. Orin Hatch. Recognizing prison as an opportunity to redeem himself, Forté created a music program, conducted weekly roundtable forums for inmates and began pursuing his degree at the London School of Economics.
Released from Fort Dix on December 22, 2008, Forté resumed his career by starting to record in the studio, writing a book and serving as the subject of a feature-length documentary about his life. He teaches a music course to teenagers at In Arms Reach, a Harlem-based initiative committed to promoting a positive environment for children of incarcerated parents and at-risk youth. Forté uses music as a therapeutic means of addressing anger, stress and pain, and hopes that the catharsis of song composition will help children deal with the stigma of having an incarcerated family member. His historic commutation has also made him an ardent supporter of prison reform. He argues that a sentence need not be unreasonably long to provide just punishment, deter criminal conduct and protect the public from harm.
Raised by a single mother in Brooklyn, John was a brilliant young musical prodigy. A dedicated student, Forté was awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy and attended New York University until his career in the music industry took off. He is a classically-trained violinist.
NOTE: Bio is as it appeared in the Forum program from May 1, 2010.
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