Steve Forbert

The Meridian Star: Meridian Native Steve Forbert To Receive Governor's Arts Award

Steve Forbert, the Meridian native known for his idiosyncratic folk-rock music, is returning to the Magnolia State this week. Forbert is one of several recipients of the 2020 Governor’s Arts Awards, which will be handed out on Thursday at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson. A public reception at 4:30 p.m. will precede the 6 p.m. ceremony. The awards recognize outstanding work in the artistic disciplines as well as arts-based community development and arts patronage in Mississippi, according to a news release. Forbert, who will be recognized for excellence in music, joins honorees Henry Danton, for lifetime achievement in dance; the Jackson Southernaires, for lifetime achievement in music; Richard Kelso, for excellence in visual art and the Tougaloo Art Collection, for preservation of the arts. “Well, it’s terrific,” Forbert said during a recent phone interview. “You know, I’ve been doing my best to write good songs for 50 years. I’ve been able to play music, do shows, and make some recordings – all things I love. It’s pretty nice at this point to be given some kind of ‘official’ recognition for it.” Forbert left Meridian in the late 1970s, moving to New York, where he played on street corners and small clubs in Greenwich Village. By 1982, he had released four acclaimed albums, including “Jackrabbit Slim,” which featured the hit “Romeo’s Tune.” Forbert, who continues to tour internationally, attributes his long run in the music business to hard work combined with a loyal fanbase. “That’s all there is to it,” he said with a chuckle. “If nobody came out to the shows, they’d never ask me back.” More than four decades into his career, the 65-year-old troubadour says many of his early songs remain fresh to him. “I sing ‘Going Down to Laurel’ most every show, and it still feels like something I’d be saying in real time,” Forbert said, describing the tune as a “a portrait of nightlife in Meridian at the time.” “It still seems perfectly natural to me,” he said. Vinyl reissue of “Jackrabbit Slim” To celebrate the 40th anniversary of its release, Forbert’s second album “Jackrabbit Slim,” was recently reissued on 180-gram limited edition red vinyl by Blue Rose Music. Forbert said the music sounds clearer and fuller on the reissue. ‘We remastered the record,” Forbert said. “The engineer got the original tapes and found there was a lot more fidelity than the original pressing.” Forbert’s latest recording project is a collection of cover songs, the bulk of them written, as he puts it, “before 1973.” “We’ve worked for months on it,” Forbert said. “Its going to be 11 songs I’ve selected out of maybe 100 of my favorites.” The set includes “Box of Rain,” a 1970 number by the Grateful Dead, Forbert’s arrangement of Jimmie Rodgers’ “Frankie and Johnny” and a take on the Elton John hit “Your Song.” “We were very serious about it,” Forbert said about recording “Your Song.” “If you’re going to do that song, it better be good, because the original is so good ... It may be perfect.” About the recipients of the Governor’s Arts Awards Steve Forbert is an American troubadour, singer-songwriter, whose career in folk rock spans nearly four decades. The Meridian native started his career in New York City, performing on street corners and working his way up to high-profile gigs at Greenwich Village clubs. Between 1978 and 1982, Forbert released four acclaimed albums, including Jackrabbit Slim with the hit “Romeo’s Tune.” Forbert’s 20th studio album will be released this year. Henry Danton is a 100-year-old world-renowned ballet dancer and teacher. Based in Petal, Danton continues to teach in South Mississippi as well as at Belhaven University. The Jackson Southernaires are a nearly 80 year-old gospel group and the first group in Mississippi to employ keyboards, guitar, drums and bass instruments in gospel, establishing a practice that continues today. Richard Kelso is a Cleveland, Miss., native and well-known painter whose work focuses on capturing the beauty, time and place of Mississippi’s land. The Tougaloo Art Collection is a fine art collection on the campus of Tougaloo College. The collection was started in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement when a group of activists, curators and critics formed the New York Art Committee for Tougaloo College.Today the collection has 1,500 works, including works on paper, sculpture, paintings, decorative arts and textiles.
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