He's been called the world's best vocal innovator, an acapella pioneer, the creator of new worlds of sound, a vocal explorer, a musical Renaissance Man, and The Wonder Voice. He has won 10 Grammies in myriad categores. His name is Bobby McFerrin - and no one can anticipate what this strikingly original performer, conductor, and composer will come up with next.
Bobby, born in 1950 in the city of New York, credits his opera singer parents with surrounding him with music, Among other instruments, he learned to play the piano and the clarinet, but his own voice was the instrument that brought him early success, beginning with an acapella quartet he formed in high school. In 1978 he worked in New Orleans' famed Astral Project, and then toured with legendary jazz vocalist John Hendricks.
In the early 1980s, Bobby McFerrin developed his innovative solo vocal improvisations, mixing them in performances with audience participation. He created a new kind of concert which he considered more a 'sharing, a mutual celebration.' Critics commented that he made Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and the premier concert halls of Europe feel warm and intimate. Audiences were dazzled by his showmanship and powerful unaccompanied voice. He won his first grammy in 1985 for 'Another Night in Tunisia' performed with the Manhattan Transfer, his second in 1986 for 'Round Midnight,' and his third in 1987 with Jack Nicholson, recording one of Rudyard Kipling's 'Just So' stories.
It was in 1988 that Bobby McFerrin became a household name when his album SIMPLE PLEASURES featured a song that took the world by storm: 'Don't Worry Be Happy.' It had groundbreaking appeal for all ages. In that same year of achieving superstardom as a vocalist, he changed musical gears by taking conducting lessons with Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa. He first conducted the San Francisco Symphony, and eventually major orchestras around the world, including the Vienna, New York, and London Philharmonics, and the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras. In 1994, he was named Creative Director of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Bobby McFerrin erases all musical genre boundaries between pop, jazz, classical, folk. His style defies description. His collaborators have ranged from jazz king Chick Correa with whom he created a jazz tribute to Mozart called THE MOZART SESSIONS, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma with whom he recorded an album and huge classical crossover hit HUSH, which stayed on Billboard charts for two years. His own longtime vocal ensemble, the Voicestra, performs everything from ancient sacred music to children's songs. Fans have bought twenty million Bobby McFerrin albums and consistently buy out tickets to his stage appearances.
But this charismatic genius with a 4-octave voice, a wealth of musical ideas, and acclaim from other great performers, cares most deeply about musical education. Married for 25 years and the father of three children himself, Bobby McFerrin is passionate about bringing the widest possible range of musical experiences to children. The response to his brilliant offerings insures that he has already made more of an impact than anyone of his generation.
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