Biography of a Jazz SingerHOME BIO GIGS GALLERY DISCOGRAPHY LINKS CONTACT
Joseph and Irene Forbes were brought up in a rural area called Auchtembeddie in the parish of Manchester, Jamaica. In the early fifties after a short spell living in the capital (Kingston) they were invited by the British Government to work and start a new life in the UK. They settled in Birmingham.
On the 11th of August 1955 they had a daughter
whom they wished to name Thelma Delores. When they told the registrar
that their daughter was to be called Thelma, in their typical Jamaican
way they dropped the ‘H’. He promptly wrote it the way they pronounced
For years nobody noticed the miss-spelt name until she applied for her first passport. From then on every official document that bore her name had to be changed to Telma.
On the 14th of November 1958 they had a son whom they named
Music wasn’t a priority at secondary school only children whose parents could afford instruments could participate. After having become a member of an excellent local church choir, where for the first time he received classical voice training. Roy joined the school choir. Roy’s talent didn’t really shine in the school choir, but Saint Mary & Saint Ambrose Church in Edgbaston, Birmingham had discovered a star. Almost every Sunday morning mum (Irene Forbes) sat in a front pew very nearly bursting with pride.
It was at this time more than ever Roy really started to notice the music his Dad (Joseph Forbes) played. It was jazz, (such as Nat ‘King’ Cole, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald), country and western, (such as Jim Reeves), opera, (such as Mario Lanza) and Ska, a Jamaican-style fusion of jazz and blues, which later evolved into what we now call reggae.
Roy became completely immersed in the seventies reggae scene, falling under the spell of icons such as; Bob Marley, Alton Ellis, John Holt, Lee Perry, Gregory Isaacs, Jimmy Cliff, Augustus Pablo, Johnny Clarke, Jacob Miller, Burning Spear, Vivian Jackson and many others. Roy’s main influence in this genre was Dennis Brown.
At the same time with similar intensity, was his interest in soul from artists such as Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Al Green, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Marvin Gaye and Sam & Dave to name but a few. Roy’s main influence in this genre was and still is Michael Jackson.
After leaving school and starting a job as an apprentice electrician Roy soon amassed a huge record collection and often volunteered his services as a DJ at parties and other occasions.
Throughout, Roy’s obsession with music was punctuated with
After singing at an early age and exploring his love of music
through recordings for many years, it was the jam sessions in pubs and
clubs in his local area of Birmingham, which made Roy realise that he
wanted to perform.There were Reggae, Soul, Blues, and Jazz bands around
at that time. Roy was very enthusiastic and would jam with any band
that would let him.
One night in 1986 at a jazz club called
Accafess, he saw, heard and met renowned Jamaican saxophonist Andy
Andy Hamilton became Roy’s mentor. Roy became the main
vocalist in Andy Hamilton’s band and appeared on Hamilton’s ‘Jamaica By
Roy also recorded live at ‘Jazz Café’, London
and at The Stables Theatre, Wavendon for BBC Radio. He
performed at numerous international Jazz festivals, including: Brecon
Jazz Festival, Cork Jazz Festival, Greenwich Festival, Soho Jazz
Festival, The Madia (Milan), St Lucia Jazz Festival and at countless
other venues nationally and internationally including the legendary ‘Ronnie
Scott's’ in London.
Andy Hamilton’s influence, guidance and encouragement launched
Roy on the road to a professional career as a jazz vocalist.
In 1997, assisted by Chris Taylor - pianist, musical director, engineer, producer and close friend, Roy released his debut album "Going Home", launching his solo career with a set of classy standards. The critics and public alike received Roy’s debut enthusiastically.
"Infused with the warmth of his own personality" ~ Jazz UK
"Cool swinging and very hip indeed" ~ The Birmingham Post
"First Class" ~ Jazz Journal International
"In-your-face swing" ~ Musician
"Luxuriant" ~ What’s On
The Roy Forbes Quintet arrived featuring: Graham Dent
- piano, Ian Hill - tenor saxophone, Mike Green - bass and Steve
Street - drums.
The year 1999 revealed another Chris Taylor production Roy’s
second album entitled ‘Telma’ (featuring Spike Robinson)
dedicated to the memory of Roy’s late sister. It was after this album
release and subsequent tour that Roy began to work with numerous local
soul bands experiencing once again his love of the genre. The Roy
Forbes Quintet, whilst retaining its cool jazz credentials, evolved
into the ultimate wedding/party experience, playing cool jazz during
dinner and/or soul and funk for dancing. As a result, the band acquired
a huge reputation for quality and versatility.
2005 saw the release of “Last Orders”.