Few understand second chances better than John E. Forte. On November 24, 2008, President George W. Bush granted the petition for commutation submitted by 33-year-old Forte, a classically-trained violinist and Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and producer from Brooklyn, New York. Famous for his work with the multi-platinum group “The Fugees,” Forte was the quintessential rising star before landing himself in a federal penitentiary. His was one of only eleven commutations granted by President Bush during his eight years in office – a testament to the dedication of those who tirelessly campaigned on his behalf, including iconic singer Carly Simon and noted conservative Senator Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah.
A brilliant young prodigy and dedicated student, Forte was awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy and attended New York University until his career took off in the music industry. While working as an A&R executive for Rawkus Entertainment, Forte met Lauryn Hill and began working closely with “The Fugees.” Forte co-wrote and produced two songs on the multi-platinum, Grammy Award winning album, The Score. He went on to record two solo albums, PolySci(Columbia) and I, John (Transparent) which featured industry legends Herbie Hancock, Tricky, Esthero and Carly Simon.
Released from Fort Dix on December 22, 2008, Forte has resumed his career by starting to record in the studio, writing his memoir with Simon and Schuster, and serving as the subject of a feature-length documentary about his life. In July 2009, he released StyleFREE the EP, his first collection of new music in eight years. He is now ready to release his full-length album, Water Light Sound which features John Legend, Natasha Bedingfield, Talib Kweli, HD Fre, AZ, Colin Munroe, Valerie June and more – and a special production contribution from Dallas Austin. Forte and Austin’s “Your Side” was featured on EA Sports’ World Cup 2010. In October 2010, Forte released “The Bloomingdale’s Acoustics” – a collection of songs in honor of promoting breast cancer awareness.
Recently, Forte’s work was featured throughout the Sundance Film Festival, where in addition to performing at the ASCAP Music Cafe, he scored all the opening film trailers, had the end-credit song in the film Night Catches Us (featuring Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, and original music by The Roots), and participated in a unique audio and visual collaborative effort with Joe Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer, Inception). Forte also has his music featured in the films Just Wright (starring Queen Latifah and Common) and Stomp the Yard 2. Forte also spent some time reintroducing himself to old fans and new fans as he took to the road touring with K’Naan and Wale.
In the winter of 2011, John took his band to Russia for a nine week journey of discovery, musical composition and performance tour throughout Russia, traveling to such cities as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Ekaterinburg as well as cities along the Trans-Siberia Railway in Siberia and beyond. There he shot a documentary film titled “The Russian Winter”, that will premiere in early 2012.
Forté is also Chief Executive Officer of Le Castle, a company he founded in 2011 to manage his upcoming projects in music, film and other creative fields.