Years before Americana music earned its own category at the Grammy Awards, Steve Forbert helped pioneer the genre’s mix of folk, roots-rock, and richly delivered storytelling. He’s been a torchbearer of that sound for more than four decades since, navigating the twists and turns of an acclaimed career that’s taken him from gold records to Grammy nominations, from New York City’s CBGB to Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe, from his 1978 debut album to 2022’s vital and versatile Moving Through America.
Forbert has been at the forefront of Americana ever since his start in the late 70s. In 1979, “Romeo’s Tune,” a track from Forbert’s breakthrough, Jackrabbit Slim, became a hit and his career took off. When New Wave bands began to dominate the FM airwaves several years later, Forbert stuck to his guns, continuing to fly the flag for organic roots music that proudly blurred the lines between genres. Releasing 20 albums in twice as many years, he has remained prolific well into the 21st century, serving as an elder statesman of Americana music while still writing music that’s spry and steadfast. He’s also a member of the Mississippi Music Hall of Fame, author of the lauded memoir Big City Cat: My Life in Folk-Rock, and a Grammy nominee for his tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, Any Old Time. Meanwhile, his older songs continue to resonate in today’s world, with Keith Urban recording his own version of “Romeo’s Tune” on the artist’s platinum-certified album Greatest Hits: 18 Kids.