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Bobby McFerrin Jr.: Biography, Music, Career, Awards Of Popular Folk-Jazz Vocalist


Bobby McFerrin is a well-known folk-jazz vocalist who is best recognized for his vocal percussion and a cappella singing, as well as his famous song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Robert Keith McFerrin Jr. was born on March 11, 1950, in Manhattan, New York, to Robert McFerrin Sr., the first African American man to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, and Sara Cooper, a soprano and Metropolitan Opera judge who directed the vocal department at Fullerton College.

McFerrin, who grew up in a musical family, aspired to be a minister of music. He received extensive musical training on the clarinet and studied music theory. McFerrin Sr. was engaged in 1958 to dub Sidney Poitier’s singing in Otto Preminger’s film adaptation of George Gershwin’s famous folk opera “Porgy and Bess.” The household relocated to Los Angeles.


McFerrin Jr. attended Cerritos College in Norwalk, California, and California State University after graduating from Cathedral High School in Los Angeles in 1968. After college, he worked as a pianist and organist with the ice-skating show Ice Follies.

After years of refining his musical approach, McFerrin released his first recording, a self-titled debut album, Bobby McFerrin, in 1982. McFerrin released The Voice in 1984, followed by Spontaneous Inventions in 1985, which included Herbie Hancock and Manhattan Transfer. McFerrin released the album Simple Pleasures in 1988, and the lead single, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” became a hit.

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was the first a capella song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart, where it remained for two weeks. The song reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Tracks list, number 7 on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, number 2 on the UK Singles Chart, and number one in Canada.

McFerrin won Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male at the 31st Annual Grammy Awards in 1988, as well as Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male.

McFerrin, a 10-time Grammy Award winner, provided the voice of Santa Bear in 1986’s Santa Bear’s First Christmas and its 1987 sequel, Santa Bear’s High-Flying Adventure. McFerrin also appeared alongside Judy Collins on the PBS TV special Sing Out America!, and in 1989 he composed and performed music for Knick Knack, a Pixar short film. McFerrin later sang the “Pink Panther Theme” for the film Son of the Pink later that year.

McFerrin was named creative director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in 1994. McFerrin is married with three children and travels the country as a guest conductor for symphony orchestras.

He also works as a guest music instructor and lecturer at public schools, and he performs in musical collaborations with his son Taylor. McFerrin earned a lifetime achievement award at the A Cappella Music Awards on May 19, 2018, and the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award on August 20, 2020.


Written by How Africa News

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