not too long ago, i had the privilege of meeting john forte. one of my best friends had recently gone to africa, and to raise awareness for c.a.r.e. her mother betty bennet, founder of apogee electronics, decided to throw a party to showcase alex's photographs. the photographs were ethereal. she captured this unique movement and charm, and i could envision her bubbly, warm persona floating around this beautiful country, catching moments within her lens; a childs tight grip on his handlebars, bright pink flamingos in a sea of black oil, curious giraffes peeking their faces into the perfect landscape frame.
as if that couldnt be enough beauty for one night, we were told to head towards the stage, where ozomatli was playing. the first time i saw them play was while taking photographs at an anti war rally in los angeles three years ago with an audience of close to one million people (the news said hundreds) and i was very happy to be seeing them in such an intimate setting. after their set a man whose writings and poems i had always admired, came to stage. i was a bit confused at first, who was this guy? john forte? isnt he in jail...
john forte is a rapper and producer. in the early 90's he was introduced to the fugees by lauren hill. he co wrote several songs for the fugees and produced and co wrote the album, "the score". this album went on to be multi platinum and grammy winning. when the fugees broke up, he went on to release his own album, which was produced by wyclef jean (another poet and lyricist i love) in 2000, john forte was arrested in an airport in new york after accepting a briefcase reportedly containing over $1.4 million worth of liquid cocaine. they filed two charges against him, intent and conspiracy to distribute. he was convicted and sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 14 years. after seven years in prison, forte was pardoned by none other than...george w bush?
so here we were, in a recording studio in los angeles among an audience of about 30 people...it was one of the moments in life where you feel like you are in a sacred space where all of the worlds series of unfortunate events do not exist for a few minutes and it becomes only about the message, the music, and the people who believe in it. later we met and our conversation was a confirmation of this grace within him, maybe its what gives him his way with his music. he even stood and cheered as my extremely nervous boyfriend eddie was coerced into playing his song 'we gotta fix the u of a' by alex and i.
here is a song i was really moved by that night (recorded another night)