bobby mcferrin

Bobby McFerrin (Photo by Carol Friedman)

*It seems greatness runs in the family. And Bobby McFerrin, who became a national treasure to us after his 1988 anthem, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is obviously proud as he introduces us to his son, Taylor McFerrin, in their upcoming dual performance at the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge, California on January 29, 2016.

Save the date. You won’t want to miss this one.

It pays to have Bobby McFerrin as your dad…and an operatic baritone as your granddad… and a soprano soloist and voice teacher as your grandmother. Which makes it no surprise that the family legacy has now been extended to the next generation with McFerrin’s handsome eldest son Taylor, a DJ, keyboardist and beat-boxer.

Taylor McFerrin, Photo by Simon Benjamin

Taylor McFerrin, Photo by Simon Benjamin

As Bobby McFerrin prepares for his 2016 tour, he welcomes the opportunity to test the possibilities of a multi-generational collaboration. The McFerrin’s will share the VPAC stage to stretch musical boundaries while celebrating the similarities embedded within their contrasting musical styles.

This will be the only performance that the father-son duo will share in McFerrin’s tour; and the first in VPAC’s Father/Son concerts this season.  VPAC will also welcome conductor Jeffrey Kahane and his songwriter son, Gabriel Kahane on February 17.

“For our fifth anniversary, it was important to feature an artist who defies genre or category, because this is very much at the heart of all VPAC’s broad and varied programming,” said Thor Steingraber, Executive Director of VPAC.

“It was equally important to appeal to multiple generations. That’s when it occurred to me to pair Bobby McFerrin and his son Taylor.  They don’t normally perform together, but for this special occasion, I’m excited that they’ve agreed to join musical forces.  Although their musical disciplines are not necessarily similar, their ebullient styles and tremendous improvisational skills are what they share in common,” he added.

Tickets

Tickets for Bobby McFerrin with special guest, Taylor McFerrin range from $40 to $105 and can be purchased by visiting ValleyPerformingArtsCenter.org or calling (818) 677-3000.  Valley Performing Arts Center is located on the campus of California State University, Northridge (CSUN), 18111 Nordhoff Street Northridge, CA 91330-8448, at the corner of Nordhoff and Lindley. 

About Bobby McFerrin

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. 

Robin Williams "warned us" of his looney and outragious talent early on

Robin Williams “warned us” of his looney and outragious talent early on

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.

As is obvious in his many musical performances, 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. “–Bobby McFerrin

About Taylor McFerrin

Brooklyn-based producer, composer, pianist, DJ and live musician Taylor McFerrin released his first full length LP, Early Riser, in June 2014 on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder record label. Taylor’s musical style is equally influenced by the legends of 60s/70s Soul, the kings of the Modern Beat Generation, Golden Era hip hop, free form jazz and electronic music. By playing all of the instruments on his productions, while also relying heavily on sampling and chopping up his live takes, he has found a sound that seamlessly bridges myriad musical worlds and draws the listener into a constantly shifting audio soundscape. 

Early Riser features guest performances from Thundercat, Robert Glasper, Nai Palm (Hiatus Kaiyote), Emily King, RYAT, Marcus Gilmore and Taylor’s father & jazz legend Bobby McFerrin, who teams up with Brazilian master Cesar Camargo Mariano for a track. The key to the whole record is the balance though—which McFerrin keeps throughout—between his guest’s individuality and his own vision, between the styles of music he loves, between a feeling of intense, sunlit joy and a deep aching sadness, which, it could be argued, is a definition of soul.

Taylor’s ability to create and evolve musically by drawing inspiration from all corners of his life translates into music of exceptional honesty and emotional directness, deep sophistication and effortless style.

About Valley Performing Arts Center

The Valley Performing Arts Center’s 2015-16 Season signals a new era for the five-year old premiere event venue.  Under the leadership of Executive Director Thor Steingraber, VPAC expands its programming to include new and original work, and outstanding multi-disciplinary performances. Located on the campus of California State University Northridge, VPAC’s season offers a vibrant and diverse performance program of nearly 50 classical and popular music, dance, theater, family and international events that will serve to establish VPAC as the intellectual and cultural heart of the San Fernando Valley and further establish itself as one of the top arts companies in Southern California.  The award-winning 1,700-seat theatre was designed by HGA Architects and Engineers and was recently cited by the LA Times as “a growing hub for live music, dance, drama and other cultural events.”

Calendar Listing for Bobby McFerrin with special guest , Taylor  

 Venue:
Valley Performing Arts Center
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330

Date: 
Friday, January 29 at 8pm

Tickets:
Prices: $40 – $105
In Person: VPAC Ticket Office, located in the VPAC Courtyard
By Phone: (818) 677-3000
Online:  ValleyPerformingArtsCenter.org

VIDEO: Let’s take a trip down memory lane and watch the video for a song that made us all happy back in the day: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. Even the late comedian/actor Robin Williams showed up in the fun! Not surprising, since the two were gaining prominence on the San Francisco arts scene.