To some people, Bobby McFerrin will always be the guy who sang "Don't Worry Be Happy." And he is that guy; he wrote and sang that global number one hit more than twenty years ago. But if that song is all you know about Bobby McFerrin, we suggest the following: Go to YouTube, type in Bobby's name, sit back and prepare for a serious boggling of the mind.
There you'll find many delights and some astonishing statistics. You'll join the millions who have marveled at Bobby's stunning rendition of the Bach prelude "Ave Maria." You'll find Bobby's shockingly inventive appearance on the NBC music program "The Sing Off," his unparalleled interpretations of Beatles songs, his collaborations with everyone from cellist Yo-Yo Ma to pianist Chick Corea to comedian Robin Williams, and his condensed version of "The Wizard of Oz." You'll see him conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and consorting with the Muppets on "Sesame Street." You'll be awed by the way McFerrin brilliantly uses audience participation, most recently to demonstrate the power of the pentatonic scale at the World Science Festival in a performance that became a viral internet phenomenon, seen by over four million people. And that just scratches the surface.
Bobby McFerrin is an eternal seeker, always defying the music industry's practical impulse to pigeonhole artists. His diversity and range are incomparable. Drawing on all genres, demonstrating matchless improvisational skills and an ability to create new vocabularies on the fly, he never fails to dazzle. Yet his music is always accessible and inviting. What is most telling about the journey through his YouTube entries are the comments from fans old and new. "Beautiful-there's no other word to describe this music," said one viewer, while another employed some 30-plus adjectives all meant to convey joy and wonderment. "He is the Johann Sebastian Bach and the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart of today!" wrote yet another, impressed by Bobby's endless creativity. Perhaps the statement that sums it up best is this one: "Bobby McFerrin makes me happy!"