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Sean Forbes, wearing black glasses, stand next to Riona Tindal, both smiling

Hip hop artist’s workshop for deaf children

American hip-hop artist Sean Forbes visited Sydney last week for a one-off performance and a youth workshop. The workshop, organised by the Deaf Society, was attended by 45 Deaf and hard of hearing children from around Sydney at the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children. Our Deaf Arts Officer Dr Riona Tindal (pictured with Sean) went along to support at the workshop – here’s what she had to say.

“The Deaf Society’s eight facilitators and myself started by leading activities with a focus on rhythm and hip-hop. We introduced games where children had to think about how Auslan can be used in different ways, as some signs can be similar but sounded different, such as dog,  and nothing. This was a chance for the children to test their English, signing knowledge and to think about how words and music can be used together.”

Sean’s inspiration

“Then Sean talked to the children about the importance of following their dreams and not giving up. He discussed the significance of his mentor and inspiration, the famous rapper Eminem (Marshall Mathers). Back in 2005 Sean didn’t feel he was taken seriously within the music industry due to being Deaf. However he never gave up, constantly contacting the producer that pushed Eminem to stardom and asking for an opportunity. He finally got a break when Eminem saw a video of him performing American Sign Language to two of his hits: ‘Lose Yourself’ and ‘Cleaning out my Closet’.

“Sean completed the workshop by performing his three hit songs – I’m Deaf, Lets Mambo, and Hammer, with his music videos playing on a screen behind him. It was a fantastic  workshop for everyone involved, and I for one felt really inspired!”