Happy Performance

Written by: 
Jessica DeLeĆ³n
Photography by: 
Michael Clements

Bobby McFerrin (Photo by Michael Clements)Ten-time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin visited UNT in February to work with jazz vocalists and the One O'Clock Lab Band.

He participated in question-and-answer sessions where he discussed a variety of topics -- everything from his experience in the music business to the types of microphones he uses in performances. McFerrin also rehearsed with the One O'Clock Lab Band, sang duets and rehearsed with jazz vocal students and participated in improvisation activities.

McFerrin, the vocal innovator known for his worldwide hit song Don't Worry Be Happy and his multi-platinum duo album Hush with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, improvises most of his performed music in a form of scat singing.

"During this residency, our students had a rare and invaluable experience with Bobby McFerrin, who challenged them all -- instrumentalists and vocalists alike -- to be truly present in the moment of music-making and free themselves from many of the usual inhibitions they might feel when it comes to improvisation," says Jennifer Barnes, assistant professor and director of vocal jazz. "In every way, he was an inspiration and role model of this kind of thinking and being, and I know we will all take the lessons learned forward with us, with much gratitude."

The week culminated with the sold-out Glenn E. Gomez Endowment concert featuring the students and McFerrin. McFerrin asked the 1,000-member crowd to sing along and invited audience members on stage to sing and dance along with him. McFerrin's residency was made possible by the Glenn E. Gomez International Artists Endowment for Jazz Studies and the Mary Jo and V. Lane Rawlins Fine Art Series.