China Forbes

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China Forbes
Born (1970-04-29) April 29, 1970 (age 45)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Occupation(s) singer, songwriter
Labels Heinz Records
Associated acts Pink Martini

China Forbes (born April 29, 1970) is an American singer and songwriter, best known as the lead singer of Pink Martini.

Life and career[edit]

Forbes was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the daughter of Peggy (Woodford) and Donald Cameron Forbes.[1] Her father was of French/Scottish descent, and her mother is African American.[2][3] The 2014 feature film Infinitely Polar Bear, written and directed by Forbes's sister Maya Forbes, was inspired by real-life events in their childhood.[4] China Forbes attended Phillips Exeter Academy ('88),[5] then studied visual arts at Harvard University,[1] where she met fellow student Thomas Lauderdale, a classically trained pianist.[6] They became friends and met regularly to play music together.[6]

After graduating from Harvard in 1992, where she won the Jonathan Levy Prize for acting, Forbes worked as an actress for several years, performing off-Broadway in New York. She then became a musician, forming a band and recording a solo album. She sang the title song ("Ordinary Girl") for the late 1990s television series Clueless and the version of "Que Sera Sera" used over the opening and closing credits of Jane Campion's 2003 film In the Cut.[1]

Lauderdale, who by then was living in Portland, Oregon, asked her to sing with Pink Martini, a band he had assembled to play at political fundraisers in Portland.[6] After three years, she moved to Portland in 1998 to work full-time with the band.[6]

Apart from her work with Pink Martini, Forbes has released two solo albums:

China is featured on Michael Feinstein's album The Sinatra Project, singing a duet of "How Long Will It Last?"[7]

It was announced at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve 2008 that Forbes was expecting her first child.[8] Her child, named Cameron, was born soon after.

In 2008, she recorded two songs in French, in duet with famous French singer-composer Georges Moustaki, for his album Solitaire.

On June 21, 2011, Pink Martini announced that Forbes was taking an extended leave of absence from performing for at least one year to undergo surgery on her vocal cords. Guest vocalists were scheduled to fill in for China during her absence. Forbes is thanked in the liner notes to 1969, the band's collaboration with Japanese vocalist Saori Yuki.

Currently Forbes is sharing Pink Martini vocal responsibilities with Storm Large, who was a guest vocalist during her leave of absence, each doing about half the tour schedule.

China Forbes is the sister of screenwriter/director Maya Forbes and is a cousin of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and indie-rock musician Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Meet the Band". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  2. ^ Jane Cornwell (24 Apr 2008). "The Pink Martini girl gets serious". The Telegraph. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  3. ^ Bill Cribbs. "Harvard University Obituary and Death Notice Collection - 71". Retrieved 2015-11-12. 
  4. ^ John Horn (2014-01-21). "Maya Forbes revisits her childhood in 'Infinitely Polar Bear'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-10-10. 
  5. ^ Bill Ewing (Winter 2002). "China Forbes '88: Finding Her Own Voice". The Exeter Bulletin. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d Speaking in tongues, an April 2005 article about Forbes and Pink Martini from The Guardian Archived April 18, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Stephen Holden (August 31, 2008). "Feinstein Comes Full Swing to Capitol-Era Sinatra". The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  8. ^ Andrea Jackson-Gewirtz (January 2, 2009). "Pink Martini: An Eclectic Splash Of Strings". NPR. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  9. ^ "The Pink Martini girl gets serious". Telegraph. 2008-04-24. Retrieved 2015-11-12. 

External links[edit]