I remember being handed a CD with the name “Gilbere Forte” scribbled on it in Sharpie pen a few years ago and thinking “How do you pronounce this?” Now I’ve heard the name so much that I’m a pro! Gilbere Forte, a Philly kid by way of Flint, Michigan has come a long way from Sharpie pens. You can’t visit a blog that won’t have his latest music posted. He recently released a mixtape hosted by Don Cannon called Eyes of Veritas, the follow-up to his debut release 87 Dreams. Hosting release parties in both LA and Philly this year, Forte is building a strong buzz for himself.
Aisha Winfield, Executive Director for the Jr. Music Executive (JME) program was one of the first to get Forte moving in the right direction. JME is a program that helps high school and college students explore careers in the music industry. The program started in 2005 and continues to cultivate the best and brightest students in the area to become successful academically and in music careers.
“My brother told me about the program [Jr. Music Executive]. I believe it was ’06 when I got involved, it was just starting up. Aisha Winfield pretty much gave me my first opportunity because she was a mentor to me and she realized things that I was trying to facilitate at a young age. She knew I had to start from the ground up,” Forte explains.
Winfield helped Forte secure internships outside of the Jr. Music Executive program. After ending up at Studio 609, home base of super-producers Dre and Vidal, Forte feels like things took off from there.
The release of his first mixtape 87 Dreams was a very special moment for Forte, admittedly the most memorable so far.
“For us [Forte and partner Raak] to both be Temple students and really dedicated to our dream in music and finally being able to put it out on a platform and the world had access to it.”
Forte has been very successful at viral marketing. In this industry environment, it is one of the key elements of artists being able to connect to their fan base. Forte believes that the key to successful viral marketing is consistency and content. But he firmly believes that one can’t exist without the other. Even if you’re consistent, it has to be stuff with substance he says.
Forte creates a unique sound based on the emotion and passion that you hear in his music. One of the most important things Forte expressed that he has learned in this business is that “you never have to compromise your artistic integrity.” Forte finds solace in knowing that his music can help give others the courage to be themselves, a message that he hopes reaches his fans across the globe.
“I want to be able to find a way to talk to everybody. I can’t call everyone up on the phone, I can’t email everyone, so if I can make one song that speaks to 10 people, once they spread the record, it may speak to 50 people and it continues to spread.”
Forte most recently performed at SXSW in Austin, Texas, the Bamboozle festival, and at Temple University with J. Cole and may be in a city near you soon. You can keep up with him via twitter, @GilbereForte or through his website www.gilbereforte.com.