For some musicians, performing is work. For others, its just a big party. For Tulsas Fiawna Forté, its therapy.
I was a very shy child, and had a pretty rough childhood. I buried everything, she said of her intense performance style. Onstage, Im taking every bad thing in my life and throwing it up, mentally trying to make it a good thing. Its my way of not blowing up on people in real life. If I can just release everything Ive got in me in one go, I dont have to be a mean person in real life.
Music has been a way of life for Forté since she was a toddler. She wrote her first song when she was 2.
I still have the recording, she said.
When I was 7, my mom got me this crappy little guitar. Within a few days, Id already written four songs. Pretty soon, she bought me a nicer guitar.
At 12, she formed her first band, playing music largely informed by Southern gospel.
I didnt listen to much music outside of church. I didnt even start listening to rock n roll until high school, Forté said. I think that helped me in a way. I became my own musician and songwriter. I didnt have any musician pushing me too far in any one direction.
Thats held true, even today. I dont listen to much music. I know that sounds terrible, but Im one of those people that if I listen to too much of one artist, I start to sound like them, she said. I dont want to do that.
And she hasnt. Forté assembled the modern incarnation of her band in 2008, and two years later brought fans Transitus, which recalled anyone from Patty Griffin to Joan Jett to Feist in the span of two songs, but mostly just sounded like Forté. The tracks were plucked from a decade-old catalog, mainly from the songwriters high school days.
I just couldnt get to the point where I wanted to let them go. Those are the songs I grew with. They were so personal, Forté said. My husband [bandmate Phillip Hanewinkel] told me that I had to let them go for other people to enjoy. I couldnt move forward without doing so.
Making that leap, shes written three albums worth of material for what will become her sophomore release, due sometime in 2013, depending upon what direction she decides to head.
I never want to do one sound for too long. I want to tap into every genre there is, Forté said. Thats where we are at now.