Bobby McFerrin grew up in a musical family. His parents are opera
singers. In 1959, his father performed on the film soundtrack of Porgy and
Bess. McFerrin's main jazz influence, however, came from Miles Davis'
McFerrin received training at the Juilliard School and, later on, at
Sacramento State College. He worked first as an accompanist; then, McFerrin
worked as a pianist and singer during
the 1970's. He came to public notice
in 1979, when he performed in New York with the singer Jon Hendricks.
His unaccompanied appearance at the 1981 Kool Jazz Festival brought him
much acclaim. By 1983, McFerrin had perfected his solo style of wordless,
The 1988 album entitled Simple Pleasures shows off his ranging style
with its combination of pop classics and self-composed material. The album
includes a version of Cream's
"Sunshine of Your Love," complete with a vocal
electric guitar. The recording also included the hit single "Don't Worry Be
Happy," featured in the movie Cocktail.
The hit soared to number one in the U.S.A. and number two in the U.K.
McFerrin enjoyed further success, when Cadbury's chocolate used "Thinking
About Your Body" in an advertising
campaign. In the ad, the word
"chocolate" was substituted for "body." This changed the makeup of
McFerrin's audience, which was previously jazz oriented.
Paper Music was a formidable endeavor, with McFerrin attempting the
music of Bach, Mozart and Mendelssohn. He picked up with his jazz roots
again, however, when he signed on with
Yellowjackets on Bang!