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Pink Martini singer to visit Gresham Borders

China Forbes promoting new solo album, '78
by: contributed photo, China Forbes is touring nationwide to support her new album “’78.” She’s appearing at Gresham’s Borders tonight.

The year 1978 was a significant year for China - the singer, not the country, as in China Forbes, who carries the vocal torch for Portland's Pink Martini.

In 1978, Forbes' parents split up and her mother moved out.

'My family was kind of fractured forever, and I became an artist in my head using music to kind of deal with it.'

Forbes details the loss on the title cut of her new solo CD, ''78,' which makes sentimental references to such events as the disco group Taste of Honey going to No. 1.

'Music helped me heal,' she says. 'I think I learned at a young age to express through making things, creating things.'

Forbes, who's embarking on a nationwide tour with a five-piece band in support of her new album, will stop at the Borders in Gresham at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, to sign copies of her new CD and perform a few songs. She's already played her new cuts in San Francisco and Los Angeles this month, and will perform concerts in Portland, Seattle, Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Forbes has spent the last decade touring the world as lead singer of Pink Martini, the critically acclaimed 'little orchestra' with the multi-lingual repertoire rooted in Latin, lounge, classical and jazz music. Invited to join the band by Harvard classmate, Thomas M. Lauderdale, Forbes has co-written most of Pink Martini's original songs with Lauderdale. However, ''78' represents a departure from her group's style, settling for a pop-rock approach more akin to something Sheryl Crow, Suzanne Vega and other 1970s-influenced singers might produce.

'In contrast to the dramatic, sweeping romantic Pink Martini style, it's much more personal, much more pop rock,' Forbes says. 'It's a side of me I can't deny.'

Forbes plays guitar, piano, bass, harmonium and Wurlitzer as well as sings on the album, and actually worked with Crow's producer/drummer Gregg Williams, who's also worked with The Wallflowers and Dandy Warhols. Williams beats the skins on the album, and other musicians include Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper as well as Eric Matthews.

The album includes more melancholy tunes like the title cut as well as more upbeat material like 'Everybody Needs Somebody.'

Forbes is no stranger to songwriting, and her original songs have been heard on such TV shows as 'The West Wing,' 'Felicity,' 'The Sopranos,' 'The L Word,' and in the films 'Mr. And Mrs. Smith,' 'Sorority Boys,' 'The Photographer,' 'The Chateau' and 'Seeing other People.'

She says she's a little nervous taking her own show on the road sans Martini.

'I'm terrified,' she says with a laugh. 'I'm trying not to internalize it.'

She says she used to feeling anxious before performing, but not anymore.

'Once I'm on stage, everything's fine.'

Upcoming performance

Who: China Forbes

What: Performing selections from, and signing copies of, her new CD ''78'

Where: Borders, 687 N.W. 12th St., Gresham Station

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 9

Info: Call Borders at 503-674-3917. Visit www.chinaforbes.com

Forbes will also be playing an all ages show Thursday, April 10, at the Aladdin Theater, 3017 S.E. Milwaukie Ave., Portland. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8. Tickets cost $18.50, $20 day of show, and are available online at Ticketmaster.com and by phone at 503-233-1994.