|Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College will open its 60thAnniversary Season with a concert by 10-time Grammy winner Bobby McFerrin on Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 8pm. Best known for the global number one hit “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” Mr. McFerrin is a percussive, improvisational genius who has stirred audiences through the years with the sounds of the voice box, fusing into his work dozens of different languages and cultures from all over the world. Tickets for this one-night-only event are $36-$60 and can be purchased at BrooklynCenter.org or by calling the box office at 718-951-4500 (Tues-Sat, 1pm-6pm).
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.
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 and Bess, and his mother Sara was a fine soprano soloist and voice teacher. 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, and his choral album VOCAbuLarieShas 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.”
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College’s presentation of Bobby McFerrin is made possible, in part, by Con Edison and WFUV Radio.
Multibuy discounts (four or more shows) save 15% off individual ticket prices (not applicable for all 60th Anniversary Season performances). 50% discount for children ages 12 and under. Discounts also available for seniors, students, Brooklyn College faculty/staff/alumni, and groups. $10 student rush tickets available day-of-show.
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
Walt Whitman Theatre at Brooklyn College
2/5 trains to Brooklyn College/Flatbush Avenue
Online orders: BrooklynCenter.org
Box Office: 718-951-4500 (Tues-Sat, 1pm-6pm)
Groups of 15 or more: 718-951-4600 ext. 3331
About Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
Founded in 1954, Brooklyn Center for the PerformingArts at Brooklyn College presents outstanding performing arts and arts education programs, reflective of Brooklyn’s diverse communities, at affordable prices. Each season, Brooklyn Center welcomes over 65,000 people to the 2,400 seat Walt Whitman Theatre, including up to 45,000 schoolchildren from over 300 schools who attend their SchoolTime series, one of the largest arts-in-education programs in the borough.
In 2014-15, Brooklyn Center celebrates its 60th Anniversary Season of presenting world-class performances on the Brooklyn College campus.
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts’ programs are supported, in part, by public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Major support for the 2014-15 season is provided by: Brooklyn College, Target, Con Edison, TD Bank, National Grid, the Macy’s Foundation, the Herman Goldman Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, the Jazz Touring Network, the Alice Lawrence Foundation, the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Henry and Lucy Moses Fund, Inc., and the TD Charitable Foundation. Additional support provided by CNG Publications, The Brooklyn Eagle, WFUV, and WBGO Jazz 88.3 FM. The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott New York Brooklyn is the official hotel of Brooklyn Center’s 60th Anniversary Season. Backstage catering is graciously provided by Applebee’s.
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts gratefully acknowledges generous support from New York State Assemblymembers Rhoda Jacobs, Alan Maisel, Félix Ortiz, Annette Robinson, and Helene Weinstein, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Tom Finkelpearl.