Bobby McFerrin is a restless seeker who knows no bounds; his story is one of ceaseless self-discovery and generosity of artistic spirit. He has continually redefined not only his own music but the very role of the artist. His palette is every style of music he’s ever heard, a genuine cross-cultural cross-breed. It’s jazz, pop, R&B, classical and world music—or, more accurately, out-of-this-world music—all rolled into one, sometimes within the same song. And yet it’s also none of the above. Bobby adopts and adapts to musical vocabularies of any and every kind, and from them he invents new ones.
To many people, Bobby McFerrin will always be associated first with a certain unpretentious, fun little feel-good ditty with an inspirational, universal message: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. The song, which features no other instruments but Bobby’s voice, caught on like nothing he had ever done before, rocketing to number 1 on the charts in America – the first a cappella song ever to reach the top – and in many other countries around the world.
Bobby, although realizing he could ride the song to continued success, stopped singing it altogether. One reason was because the song was a studio invention, McFerrin overdubbing his voice seven times, and therefore it could not be successfully reproduced live. But more importantly, Bobby did not want to become pigeonholed artistically. He felt that being tied to one trademark song would restrain him and keep him from progressing. So, while “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was still on the charts, Bobby chose to move on and let the song live its own life without him. He even refused to sing it on the Grammy awards telecast!
But that wasn’t all: For the next two years, McFerrin virtually disappeared from the music scene while deciding where to head next. When he finally returned, his job description had expanded: Bobby not only performed duet concerts with the masterful jazz pianist Chick Corea and assembled an improvisational vocal troupe he called Voicestra – still going strong today – but he began a second career as a conductor of the world’s finest orchestras.
His loyal fans know that, when one becomes a part of his audience, something will happen that has never happened before, and never will again. McFerrin is the rare artist whose continued success is based solely on his daring artistry and immense flexibility.
Those who have never been to one of McFerrin’s performances may have heard that he’s something special, he’s different, that his gift is his own. But still, they arrive as skeptics: What can this man possibly do that they haven’t heard before? They soon find out:
Bobby McFerrin will be performing at The Centre on Friday, May 29 @ 8PM.