Bobby McFerrin boldly embraces the body to create music
Rhapsody in Black - Bobby McFerrin
Jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin is a musical multi-tasker like no other. Not afraid to break tradition, McFerrin has opened up the world of music to embrace all different kinds of sounds. McFerrin’s approach consists of his choice of material, his bombastic singing and the fact that he could sound like an entire band. A musical multi-tasker, he often added percussive effects by beating his chest, clicking his tongue and sometimes employing non-musical items. Herbie Hancock and a few jazz composers dared to tinker around with beatboxing, electronics, or early hip-hop. McFerrin boldly embraced all that and more.
Musical selections from Bobby McFerrin
During a live performance in Montreal, McFerrin decided to try something unique. What many thought would be a standard singing of “Ave Maria” ended up becoming a beautiful sing-along with the audience. The on-stage choir with the audience sang the words while McFerrin performed the accompaniment using nothing but sounds produced by his body.
“Thinkin' About Your Body”
One performance and style feature that he is known for is self-bodily accompaniment. Much of his music output consists of added percussive effects by beating his chest, clicking his tongue, and other techniques. In this work, these extended techniques give a funny double meaning that goes along with the text.
“Don't Worry Be Happy“
While McFerrin is considered a jazz vocalist, he has had one song that topped the Billboard charts. “Don’t Worry Be Happy” was a late-80s feel-good anthem for positivity. The opening whistle tune is iconic with his style and the title of the song remains a staple in pop culture, even if people can’t remember the tune they will always remember to don’t worry and be happy.
Host: Tesfa Wondemagegnehu
Producer: Dan Nass
Writers: Andrea Blain and Scott Blankenship
Additional music selections: Jeffrey Yelverton
Executive Producer: Julie Amacher