Deaf hip-hop artist Sean Forbes just signed a recording contract with Web Entertainment and BMI, according to the Detroit Free Press. Forbes is the co-founder of the Deaf Professional Arts Network also known as D-Pan, which makes sign-language remakes of popular music videos. Founded in 2006, the network helps people who are hearing-impaired connect with today’s popular music through remaking videos like Fort Minor’s “Where Did You Go?” Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” and John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.” All of D-Pan’s videos feature deaf or hard-of-hearing performers.
While Forbes started out covering other artists’ material, he also plays drums and writes his own music, rapping and signing simultaneously. He lost 90% of his hearing as a baby, but grew up listening to hip-hop nonetheless. His first single is called “I’m Deaf.” Sorenson Communications, which provides videophone services, plans to use it as “video hold music” for users of its services. The single comes out on Tuesday, May 18th.
According to Charlie Feldman, BMI’s vice president for writer-publisher relations, Forbes is:
“rapping and signing, and he’s spitting pretty impressively, to put it in the vernacular.”
This summer, Forbes is planning to tour bookstores and colleges with collaborator Jake Bass, and his also trying to find musical acts with a similarly light-hearted vibe to open for.
In the Detroit Free Press, Forbes described what the deal means for him and for the hearing-impaired community as a whole:
“D-Pan opened the door for deaf people with music videos, and that opened the door for people with original material like myself,” says Forbes. “I hope this helps create opportunities for more people. … “I hope it shows everybody that deaf people can do anything.”
You can watch Forbes’ videos and get more information about his music on his website.