Sean Forbes

Sean Forbes’ website states, “Sean Forbes is a musician on a mission. Music is in his blood, his cells; it’s just the way he is.”

The 2008 graduate of RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology, who has been playing drums since he was five years old, was motivated to get involved in the music industry by both his love of music, developed as the child of musicians, and the lack of accessibility to mainstream music for deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

Forbes is the founder of D-PAN, the Deaf Performing Artists Network, which has created videos produced in American Sign Language that interpret songs such as Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change” and others.

“We have two sign interpreted music videos in the works, and should be coming out with a new video soon,” he says.

Along with D-PAN, Sean creates and performs his own music, and is working on a full-length album with music videos. He recently opened for the nationally known rap artist Ludacris.

“I have about 30 songs to choose from, and three music videos are almost complete,” he says. “I'd like to have an album with 10 songs and 10 music videos.”

During his time at RIT/NTID, Forbes learned many of the lessons that helped him make in-roads into the very competitive music business

“Everything in life is about connections,” he explains. “Without networking with people, I wouldn't be doing what I love. I learned at RIT that those who are successful believed in themselves, showed up, made a difference and succeeded. I had to pave my own path in order to be successful. There wasn't anyone in the music business that I could really look up to, but by believing in myself, I knew what I had to do in order to be successful.”

Forbes advises students who are looking to pursue their dream believe in themselves.

“If you believe that you have a skill that you can be successful with, go for it,” he says. “I just knew I had it in me to make music, and I had to chase after that dream. The world is run by those who show up. And I’m showing up.”

Visit to view the videos mentioned. To see Forbes’ latest video, “I’m Deaf,” go to

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2011 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

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