Bobby McFerrinOn Our Show: October 23, 2010
Birth Year: 1950
Origin: New York, NY
Genres: a capella|classical|jazz
About Bobby McFerrin:
With a four-octave range and a dazzling repertoire of vocal techniques, 10-time Grammy Award-winner Bobby McFerrin has sold over 20 million albums.
Born in New York City in 1950, Bobby is the son of singer Sara Cooper and opera baritone Robert McFerrin, the first black man to sing as a member of the New York Metropolitan Opera. Bobby McFerrin began to study musical theory at the age of six. During high school, at the California State University in Sacramento and at the Cerritos College, he studied and played the piano. Then, he went on tour with the Ice Follies and later with several top 40 bands.
Bobby spent his early professional career performing in jazz and cabaret bands before turning to singing at the age of 27. First he played with the Astral Projection Band in New Orleans. Then, Bill Cosby managed to get him a chance to perform at the Playboy Jazz Festival in 1980. A year later he triumphed at the Kool Jazz Festival in New York. In May 1982 followed his debut album: Bobby McFerrin.
After a tour with his own band and gigs with Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin began to perform solo in 1983. He released his first solo album in 1982 and a few years later the explosive worldwide popularity of his a cappella song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” made McFerrin a household name.
After other successes, Bobby McFerrin turned to classical music in the 1990s, directing orchestras and giving his sometimes very special interpretations. Crisscrossing the music world, he has sung a rendition of the Bach prelude “Ave Maria,” appeared on Sesame Street and the NBC music program The Sing Off, reinterpreted Beatles songs, collaborated with everyone from cellist Yo-Yo Ma to pianist Chick Corea to comedian Robin Williams, conducted the Vienna Philharmonic and demonstrated the power of the pentatonic scale at the World Science Festival.
His most recent album, VOCAbuLarieS, is a collaboration with the composer/arranger/producer Roger Treece, a member of Bobby’s improvising vocal ensemble Voicestra. The sophisticated, complex compositions and densely produced, multi-dimensional textures on VOCAbuLarieS are an expansion into new territory.
As a vocalist and a conductor, McFerrin has worked with some of the world’s greatest musicians: close friend Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and some of the world’s great orchestras: New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Vienna Philharmonic. He is also the former Creative Chair of Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.