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Bobby McFerrin

For decades Bobby McFerrin has broken all the rules. The 10-time Grammy
winner has blurred the distinction between pop music and fine art, goofing
around barefoot in the world's finest concert halls, exploring uncharted vocal
territory, inspiring a whole new generation of a cappella singers and the beatbox
movement. His latest album, spirityouall, is a bluesy, feel-good recording, an
unexpected move from the music-industry rebel who singlehandedly redefined
the role of the human voice with his a cappella hit “Don't Worry, Be Happy,” his
collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea and the Vienna Philharmonic, his
improvising choir Voicestra, and his legendary solo vocal performances.

It's been the quietest and most polite of revolutions. Bobby McFerrin was always
an unlikely pop star. He created a lasting ear-worm of a #1 hit early in his career.
Then he calmly went back to pursuing his own iconoclastic musical journey,
improvising on national television, singing melodies without words,
spontaneously inventing parts for 60,000 choral singers in a stadium in
Germany, ignoring boundaries of genre, defying all expectations. Most people
don't know that Bobby came from a family of singers. Bobby's father, the
Metropolitan Opera baritone Robert McFerrin, Sr., provided the singing voice for
Sydney Poitier for the film version of Porgy & Bess, and his mother Sara was a
fine soprano soloist and voice teacher. Bobby grew up surrounded by music of all
kinds. He remembers conducting Beethoven on the stereo at three, hiding under
the piano while his father and mother coached young singers, dancing around the
house to Louie Armstrong, Judy Garland, Etta Jones and Fred Astaire. He played
the clarinet seriously as a child, but he began his musical career as a pianist, at
the age of 14. He led his own jazz groups, studied composition, toured with the
show band for the Ice Follies, played for dance classes. Then one day he was
walking home and suddenly he understood that he had been a singer all along.

Bobby's history as an instrumentalist and bandleader is key to understanding his
innovative approach to mapping harmony and rhythm (as well as melody) with
his voice. "I can't sing everything at once," he says, "but I can hint at it so the
audience hears even what I don't sing." All that pioneer spirit and virtuosity has
opened up a great big sky full of new options for singers; so have Bobby's
experiments in multi-tracking his voice (Don't Worry, Be Happy has seven
separate, over-dubbed vocal tracks; Bobby's choral album VOCAbuLarieS (with
Roger Treece) has thousands). But virtuosity isn't the point. "I try not to
"perform" onstage," says Bobby. "I try to sing the way I sing in my kitchen, because
I just can't help myself. I want audiences to leave the theatre and sing in their
own kitchens the next morning. I want to bring audiences into the incredible
feeling of joy and freedom I get when I sing. "

Upcoming Events for Bobby McFerrin

No upcoming events were found for this artist/band.