Personalities | Bobby McFerrin | Eighties | Jazz & Blues

(Vocals, b. 1950)

A vocal gymnast and daring improviser, McFerrin is one of the most distinctive and uncategorizable singers in contemporary music. His remarkable range (he makes uncanny leaps from deep bass tones to the highest falsetto zone), elastic delivery and incredibly open-minded nature allow him to convincingly cover everything from pop, R&B, jazz and rock to demanding classical pieces. His 1982 self-titled debut on Elektra introduced an extraordinary talent, while his 1984 follow-up, The Voice, was a milestone in jazz – the first time a singer had recorded an entire album without any accompaniment.

His Blue Note debut, Spontaneous Inventions (1986), earned him respect from the jazz community and 1988’s Simple Pleasures made him a household name on the strength of his surprise hit ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’. McFerrin continued to challenge himself through the 1990s with his vocal group Voicestra and his duet collaborations with classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Chick Corea, and has also been a conductor and performer at the BBC Proms in London’s Royal Albert Hall.

Styles & Forms | Eighties | Jazz & Blues
Personalities | Pat Metheny | Eighties | Jazz & Blues

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel


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