Latest Release : SpiritYouAll
For decades Bobby McFerrin has broken all the rules. The […]
For decades Bobby McFerrin has broken all the rules. The 10-time Grammy winner has blurred the distinction between pop music and fine art, goofing around barefoot in the world’s finest concert halls, exploring uncharted vocal territory, inspiring a whole new generation of a cappella singers and the beatbox movement. His latest album, spirityouall, is a bluesy, feel-good recording, an unexpected move from the music-industry rebel who singlehandedly redefined the role of the human voice with his a cappella hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” his collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea and the Vienna Philharmonic, his improvising choir Voicestra, and his legendary solo vocal performances. It’s been the quietest and most polite of revolutions. Bobby McFerrin was always an unlikely pop star. He created a lasting ear-worm of a #1 hit early in his career. Then he calmly went back to pursuing his own iconoclastic musical journey, improvising on national television, singing melodies without words, spontaneously inventing parts for 60,000 choral singers in a stadium in Germany, ignoring boundaries of genre, defying all expectations. Most people don’t know that Bobby came from a family of singers. Bobby’s father, the Metropolitan Opera baritone Robert McFerrin, Sr., provided the singing voice for Sydney Poitier for the film version of Porgy & Bess, and his mother Sara was a fine soprano soloist and voice teacher. Bobby grew up surrounded by music of all kinds. He remembers conducting Beethoven on the stereo at three, hiding under the piano while his father and mother coached young singers, dancing around the house to Louie Armstrong, Judy Garland, Etta Jones and Fred Astaire. He played the clarinet seriously as a child, but he began his musical career as a pianist, at the age of 14. He led his own jazz groups, studied composition, toured with the show band for the Ice Follies, played for dance classes. Then one day he was walking home and suddenly he understood that he had been a singer all along. Bobby’s history as an instrumentalist and bandleader is key to understanding his innovative approach to mapping harmony and rhythm (as well as melody) with his voice. “I can’t sing everything at once,” he says, “but I can hint at it so the audience hears even what I don’t sing.” All that pioneer spirit and virtuosity has opened up a great big sky full of new options for singers; so have Bobby’s experiments in multi-tracking his voice (Don’t Worry, Be Happy has seven separate, over-dubbed vocal tracks; Bobby’s choral album VOCAbuLarieS (with Roger Treece) has thousands). But virtuosity isn’t the point. “I try not to “perform” onstage,” says Bobby. “I try to sing the way I sing in my kitchen, because I just can’t help myself. I want audiences to leave the theatre and sing in their own kitchens the next morning. I want to bring audiences into the incredible feeling of joy and freedom I get when I sing. ” Visit bobbymcferrin.com and the Bobby McFerrin page on Facebook for more information.
Bobby McFerrin Surprises Us Again, Bringing It All Back Home With New Album spirityouall
For decades, Bobby McFerrin has broken all the rules. The 10-time Grammy winner waged a quiet revolution, blurring the distinction between pop music and high art, goofing around barefoot in the world’s finest concert halls, exploring uncharted vocal territory, inspiring a whole new generation of a cappella singers and the beatbox movement. Now he surprises […]
For decades, Bobby McFerrin has broken all the rules. The 10-time Grammy winner waged a quiet revolution, blurring the distinction between pop music and high art, goofing around barefoot in the world’s finest concert halls, exploring uncharted vocal territory, inspiring a whole new generation of a cappella singers and the beatbox movement. Now he surprises us by bringing it all back home with his new album, spirityouall, available on May 14, 2013 from Sony Masterworks.
On spirityouall Bobby McFerrin invites us to sit on the stoop awhile and listen as he throws some unexpected new ingredients into the melting pot and reinvents Americana. He embraces it all— bluegrass and the baroque, heartfelt lyrics and wordless melodies, joy and sorrow—across genres, across boundaries, across generations. He invites us back to the great folk tradition of lifting our voices to sing together through life’s trials and triumphs.
spirityouall features seven classic spirituals, an unexpected cover (Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”), and five original tunes ranging from a celebratory hoedown (“Rest”) to a polemic anthem (“Woe”), to a down and dirty blues setting of Psalm 25:15. The stellar band includes Esperanza Spalding, who sings with Bobby on three tracks, Larry Grenadier on bass, multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell, drummers Ali Jackson and Charley Drayton, and accordionist/keyboard wizard/arranger/musical director Gil Goldstein. spirityouall was recorded at Avatar Recording and Shelter Island Sound, both in New York City.
The bluesy, feel-good recording is an unexpected move from the music-industry rebel who singlehandedly redefined the role of the human voice with his a cappella hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” his collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Chick Corea and the Vienna Philharmonic, his improvising choir Voicestra, and his legendary solo vocal performances. spirtyouall continues Bobby’s lifelong quest to integrate all the influences of the musical universe. But as in so many great American tales, sometimes it turns out that everything one is searching for is in one’s own backyard.
spirityouall honors the legacy of Bobby’s father, the opera singer Robert McFerrin, Sr., the first African-American to sign a contract with the Metropolitan Opera Company and a renowned interpreter of the American Negro spiritual. It was the elder McFerrin’s 1957 recording, “Deep River” and Other Classic Negro Spirituals, that inspired Bobby to record his own set of devotional songs. He sat on the idea for some 20 years before deciding that the time was right. “I had the idea of taking some of my father’s pieces and reinterpreting them. In the meantime, I had also been writing some pieces that had a spiritual bent, and so the album is a combination of originals, traditional spirituals and things I heard my father sing.” Bobby grew up absorbing and singing these songs.
Three of the traditional numbers featured on spirityouall—the opening track “Every Time I Feel the Spirit,” “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and “Fix Me Jesus”—also appeared on Bobby’s father’s album, but any similarities end there. Bobby McFerrin’s wholly improvisational approach to vocalizing is markedly different than his dad’s more formal operatic style, and the usage of rhythm instruments on spirityouall—the title a clever play on the word spiritual—as well as acoustic and pedal steel guitars, accordions, violin, mandolin and electronic keyboards, places Gil Goldstein’s elegant, rousing arrangements and McFerrin’s uplifting vocals more in line with contemporary Americana than conventional gospel. What attracted McFerrin to delivering his own interpretations of these songs, and to write several new ones, was simply his lifelong belief in what they say. The spirituals are about liberation and courage, the human condition, the pioneering spirit, the search for strength in the face of adversity, and the journey toward a better place.
spirityouallis a deeply personal statement for Bobby McFerrin. “I couldn’t do anything without faith,” he says. “I couldn’t open up my eyes, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t sing. What I want everyone to experience at the end of my concerts is…this sense of rejoicing. I don’t want the audience to be blown away by what I do, I want them to have this sense of real joy, from the depths of their being. Then you open up a place where grace can come in.”
Bobby McFerrin’sspirityouall album will be available for pre-order beginning this month, March 2013. He is currently on tour with a new band in support of the release.
Lift your voice, open your heart and sing along.
Sony Masterworks comprises Masterworks Broadway, Masterworks, OKeh, Portrait, RCA Red Seal and Sony Classical imprints. For email updates and information please visit www.SonyMasterworks.com.