Forrest O'Connor
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Forrest O'Connor

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Band Pop Singer/Songwriter

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"On The Hay Brigade (Forrest O'Connor's band from 2008-2010)"

"A stunning level of virtuosity." - The Bluegrass Blog


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Forrest O’Connor is a tall person who plays a small instrument. Some think he should play the upright bass, like Edgar Meyer, or the piano, like Oscar Peterson, or the euphonium, like…a famous euphoniumist.

But no. Forrest, a mandolinist since his early teens, was at age 21 drawn to the mandola, an instrument that few had heard of and fewer had played. “I don't get it,” he said when he first picked one up. “The mandola's range is similar to that of a guitar, but the instrument itself is way smaller and has only four strings. The strings are tuned in fifths, unlike the guitar, which has that confusing third interval among fourths. Why doesn’t anyone play this thing?”

Hearing no response to his rhetorical question, Forrest decided to give the mandola a whirl. It was the first of many whirls to come.

In winter 2010, about a year after the first whirl, Forrest was smacked upside the head by something. He spent three or four months hibernating in his 9’ by 11’ bedroom (when he wasn’t working) writing vocal melodies. Thirty-five melodies and around 200 computer-hours later, he emerged from his man-cave. But he hadn’t written any words yet. Indeed, although he’d composed music throughout high school and college, he’d never written a real set of lyrics.

He thought about enlisting the help of a trained lyricist, but then he thought, “Actually, I’ll try it myself!”

So, he went back into the man-cave for about a month and a half, listening to the melodies over and over until they conveyed stories to him. Thirty-five sets of lyrics and another 150 computer-hours later, he emerged again. But he didn’t have someone to sing the songs. Indeed, although he was pretty good at imitating both male and female opera singers, he’d never really learned how to sing.

He thought about enlisting the help of a trained singer, but then he thought, “Actually, I’ll try it myself!”

This time, he found a different man-cave, one that allowed him to practice incredibly obnoxious vocal exercises without bothering those nearby. Cognizant of his lateness (for by this time he was 23, and you know, he had to start thinking about retirement), he summoned memories of the creative forces around which he grew up in Nashville. His dad, Mark, had performed and collaborated with singers like Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris, while his mom, Suzanne, was a singer in her own right and often played records by Jonathan Edwards, Fleetwood Mac, and James Taylor on the kitchen boombox. Memories of hearing these inspiring singers motivated Forrest to work hard on singing.

Four months after starting to sing, he began performing his songs in venues around Boston.

Forrest’s compositions are melodically adventurous yet accessible. They tell stories of crop circles, false apocalypses, Olympic villages, great inventors, seductive policewomen, and other, curious subjects, all of which are inspired by the melodies themselves.

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Forrest O’Connor was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. He picked up the mandolin at age 13 after moving to western Montana. As a freshman at Harvard, Forrest founded the Harvard College American Music Association, which produced a number of workshops and seminars featuring Rosanne Cash, Bela Fleck, Roy Hargrove, and Alison Brown, among others. He has performed on Public Radio International’s "The World" and WGBH Radio’s "A Celtic Sojourn", as well as in venues throughout the Boston area. His chamber piece, Homage to the Old Mill, was performed by Harvard’s Brattle Street Chamber Players in fall 2009. The following spring, he graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in sociomusicology. In June 2010, he joined forces with Dan Gurney to start Concert Window, Inc., which has webcasted over 1,300 concerts from top-notch venues around the U.S. (including the Berklee Performance Center in Boston, Club Passim in Cambridge, MA, and (le) Poisson Rouge in New York) to viewers in over 130 countries.