The music of Forest Blakk comes from an unshakable sense of purpose, a belief in building beauty from life’s most painful moments. Growing up in Montreal, with time spent in Florida and Jamaica, the singer/songwriter first took up guitar as a refuge from his chaotic home life, then spent years learning to channel his most complex emotions into song. With his breakthrough single “If You Love Her” —a fall 2020 release that marks his Billboard debut— Blakk has brought his heart-on-sleeve songwriting to a whole new level of resonance, again proving music’s power to transform both audience and artist. Starkly arranged and deceptively simple, the song unfolds with a raw intensity as Blakk pays tribute to a former partner, infusing every line with his soul-stirring vocals.
With its intricate detail and lucid self-expression, “If You Love Her” reveals the lyrical finesse Blakk first cultivated by writing poems as a kid. At age 15, he began exploring his musical side by learning to play a guitar given to him by his grandmother. By that point, Blakk had endured a lifetime’s worth of trouble: born in Montreal, he spent much of his childhood with his mother (who struggled with addiction) and his stepfather (a notorious drug dealer), moving around constantly and finding himself on and off the streets after his stepdad went to prison. Soon after moving to Calgary at age 21, he formed a band that later earned a JUNO nomination. In the years following the band’s dissolution, Blakk experienced a period of profound change, ultimately embracing the more soulful and folk-leaning sound that defines his music today. One of the first songs embodying that sound, “Love Me” earned attention from heavyweights like Pete Ganbarg (president of A&R at Atlantic Records) and legendary music exec Seymour Stein, paving the way for Blakk’s signing to Atlantic in 2015.