24 Facts About Bobby McFerrin


Bobby McFerrin is widely known for performing and recording regularly as an unaccompanied solo vocal artist.


Bobby McFerrin has frequently collaborated with other artists from both the jazz and classical scenes.


Bobby McFerrin has worked in collaboration with instrumentalists, including the pianists Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Joe Zawinul, the drummer Tony Williams, and the cellist Yo-Yo Ma.


Bobby McFerrin was born in Manhattan, New York City in 1950, the son of operatic baritone Robert Bobby McFerrin and singer Sara Copper.


Bobby McFerrin attended Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, Cerritos College, University of Illinois Springfield and California State University, Sacramento.


Bobby McFerrin's mother Sara McFerrin was a soloist and taught voice at Fullerton College in Southern California.


McFerrin's first recorded work, the self-titled album Bobby McFerrin, was not produced until 1982, when McFerrin was already 31 years old.

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Bobby McFerrin was influenced by Keith Jarrett, who had achieved great success with a series of solo improvised piano concerts including The Koln Concert of 1975, and wanted to attempt something similar vocally.


In 1984, Bobby McFerrin performed onstage at the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles as a sixth member of Herbie Hancock's VSOP II, sharing horn trio parts with the Marsalis brothers.


In 1988, Bobby McFerrin recorded the song "Don't Worry, Be Happy", which became a hit and brought him widespread recognition across the world.


In reaction, Bobby McFerrin publicly protested that use of his song, and stated that he was going to vote against Bush.


Bobby McFerrin dropped the song from his own performance repertoire.


Bobby McFerrin sang a Wizard of Oz medley during that television special.


The rough cut to which Bobby McFerrin recorded his vocals had the words "blah blah blah" in place of the end credits.


Bobby McFerrin spontaneously decided to sing "blah blah blah" as lyrics, and the final version of the short film includes these lyrics during the end credits.


Around 1992, an urban legend began that Bobby McFerrin had committed suicide; it has been speculated that the false story spread because people enjoyed the irony of a man known for the positive message of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" suffering from depression in real life.


Bobby McFerrin makes regular tours as a guest conductor for symphony orchestras throughout the United States and Canada, including the San Francisco Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and many others.


The concerts often end with Bobby McFerrin conducting the orchestra in an a cappella rendition of the "William Tell Overture," in which the orchestra members sing their musical parts in Bobby McFerrin's vocal style instead of playing their parts on their instruments.


Bobby McFerrin participates in various music education programs and makes volunteer appearances as a guest music teacher and lecturer at public schools throughout the US Bobby McFerrin has collaborated with his son, Taylor, on various musical ventures.


In July 2003, Bobby McFerrin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music during the Umbria Jazz Festival where he conducted two days of clinics.


Bobby McFerrin was given a lifetime achievement award at the A Cappella Music Awards on May 19,2018.


Bobby McFerrin was honored with the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award on August 20,2020.


Bobby McFerrin is the father of musicians Taylor McFerrin and Madison McFerrin, and actor Jevon McFerrin.


Bobby McFerrin makes use of percussive effects created both with his mouth and by tapping on his chest.