We have every form of entertainment at our fingertips these days: music, television, movies, comedy acts, theatrical performances, dance routines, and concerts. And most of these mainstream shows are put on for us by the most talented people in their industry. For their contributions to our entertainment, they are showered in publicity, money, and fame. But have you ever asked yourself the question, “Who entertains the entertainers?”
Enter musician Sean Forrest. Beginning his career in 1986, Sean embarked on a singing and songwriting career that led him to perform for Billy Joel, Matthew Broderick, Alec and William Baldwin, and he also opened up for groups like The Mamas & the Papas and Hall & Oates. When he wasn’t entertaining celebrities, he was traveling to upscale beaches, ski resorts, and nightclubs to perform for thousands.
At one point, Forrest reached a status where he was only having to perform on weekends, and he was still making more money than his friends who had gone to college and gotten degrees. He had beach houses, luxury cars, several boats, and he could vacation any time and any place. But something in him was restless.
Sean Forrest joined Timmerie on Trending with Timmerie to discuss his life in the music industry, his conversion to the faith, and how he found true purpose and fulfillment in a life of service rather than a life of pleasure.
“After year seven, eight, nine, you start saying, ‘So, is this it? Do we just keep playing bigger venues and getting more money? Is that going to make me [happier]?’ And I started asking some bigger questions,” said Forrest.
Just as Forrest was reaching a turning point in his career and started to get sponsored and looked at for lucrative deals, he came to this turning point in his personal life. He said you can only sing so many Jimmy Buffett songs before you go crazy, and you can only drink so many beers before it starts to feel like Groundhog Day. Was this life of lavish luxury really what he wanted? Was this all there was to life? From the outside looking in, it may be tempting to desire that lifestyle, but Forrest was in the thick of it and felt so empty.
Forrest was sponsored by Jägermeister, and in order to earn money from his sponsorship, he would do a toast and take a shot of it with the crowd before his happy hour show. About twenty minutes from the venues he was playing at was a Catholic Church that had a youth mass at the same time as his happy hour show. More and more people were starting to come to his show at the bar instead of Mass. One day, a small, Italian, priest from the church came into the bar and walked up to the stage during Forrest’s show. Forrest leaned down, expecting a song request.
“You should take your cross off,” he said, beckoning to the cross Forrest wore as decoration. “I don’t want to judge your soul, but if I was a betting man, I’d bet if you died right now, you’d go straight to hell. Have a good day.” And he walked out. Forrest laughed as he remembered how shocking that was to hear. But it was that experience that put the “bug in his ear”. Is there such a thing as hell?
Word made its way around that Sean Forrest was starting to look into religion and question his perception of God. One day, before his show, there was a knock at his door. He opened it to see three men, one of whom Sean recognized. They wanted to ask if they could pray with him before he performed. He said no, and shooed them out the door, but not before they gave him a rosary. A little while later, he was walking out onto the stage to do this shot of Jagermeister and offer a toast. But before he did, he looked over to his right and he saw those three men who had come to his door praying a rosary for him.
He felt a renewed strength to resist. Instead of taking that shot, Forrest offered a song to his audience. He played a song that he had written about Peter stepping out of that boat to meet Jesus on the water. That was his conversion moment. After that day, Forrest lost virtually all of his jobs. He didn’t book any more gigs at bars, and he lost his sponsorships. If he couldn’t sell alcohol by drinking it himself, they didn’t want him.
But it didn’t matter. While he wanted to keep his boats and cars and houses, he wanted to follow God more. He said as tough as it was, walking away from that life was one of the greatest moments in his life.
Forrest used to be a Protestant, but he gave it up because it didn’t fit into his rock and roll lifestyle. So, when he started asking spiritual questions, he sought answers in Buddhism and Hinduism. But they didn’t satisfy his restlessness. So, he continued his search. Forrest said that he wasn’t necessarily looking for Jesus, but he was looking for an answer to why he was alive and why he was put on this planet.
“Then I came into my old Protestant Church again. Then I started asking more questions. ‘How do I know Pastor Dan is right about this? He just started his own church. Why can’t I start mine?’ Asked more questions, read some Scott Hahn books, and the next thing you know, I’m being confirmed in the Catholic Church.”
Wanting to use his talents for the glory of God, Forrest turned his attention to Haiti. He is the founder of Haiti180, a missionary outreach organization that builds shelters, orphanages, and schools for the impoverished, educates them in the faith, and provides care, medical and otherwise, for the Haitian people.
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