Musical legends join forces for the Deaf and Loud Experience.
Rapper Sean Forbes and two other deaf performers will share the stage with the DSO at Orchestra Hall Dec. 16 for a performance of Motown and other Detroit-centric music that is bound to be as profound as it will be unusual.
Forbes, Grammy-winning percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and Mandy Harvey, a finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2017, will perform in the “Deaf and Loud Experience,” which might be the first-ever to feature deaf musicians. Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God), who is deaf (and Jewish), will be on hand, along with an array of local musicians, including Jake Bass of Berkley, Forbes’ songwriting partner and son of Oak Park-native Jeff Bass of the famed Bass Brothers, also known as the Funky Bass Team (FBT, the producers who groomed and signed Eminem). Simon Cowell, creator of America’s Got Talent, is a main sponsor of the show, along with the Motown Museum, which is bringing in Detroit music legend Paul Riser to arrange a set of Motown classics.
How do deaf musicians “hear” what they play? And how do deaf and hard of hearing people receive music? The answer, as delivered by the Deaf and Loud Experience, includes sign language, captioning, vibrations, pitch, rhythm and a lot of heart.
“You’ll see beautiful music in a way the artist expressed it,” says Forbes, 36, of Royal Oak. Forbes is a hip-hop artist who has made pop music accessible to the deaf community through his music videos, recordings and the recently launched web-based American Sign Language channel he runs, DPAN.TV.
The genesis of the DSO show began with a 2015 Washington Post story on Forbes, who had recorded an album, Perfect Imperfection, and worked himself into a career as head of D-PAN (Deaf Professional Arts Network), a Detroit-based nonprofit founded in 2006 by Joel Bacow — manager of FBT — of Huntington Woods. The concert will benefit the organization, created to make music and culture accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.