Vocal virtuoso Bobby McFerrin ranks among the most distinctive and original singers in contemporary music - equally adept in jazz, pop, and classical settings, his octave-jumping trademark style, with its rhythmic inhalations and stop-on-a-dime shifts from falsetto to deep bass notes often sounds like the work of at least two or three singers at once, while at the same time sounding quite unlike anyone else. The son of husband-and-wife classical singers, McFerrin was born in New York City on March 11, 1950, later studying piano at California State College at Sacramento and Cerritos College. After touring behind the Ice Follies, he performed with a series of cover bands, cabaret acts, and dance troupes before making his vocal debut in 1977. While living in New Orleans, he sang with the group Astral Projection before relocating to San Francisco. There he met legendary comedian Bill Cosby, who arranged for McFerrin to appear at the 1980 Playboy Jazz Festival.
As a vocalist, McFerrin often switches rapidly between modal and falsetto registers to create polyphonic effects, performing both the main melody and the accompanying parts of songs. He makes use of percussive effects created both with his mouth and by tapping on his chest. McFerrin is also capable of multiphonic singing.
A document of McFerrin's approach to singing is his 1984 album The Voice, the first solo vocal jazz album recorded with no accompaniment or overdubbing.
Robert Keith "Bobby" McFerrin, Jr. (born March 11, 1950) is an American vocalist and conductor. He is best known for his 1988 hit song "Don't Worry, Be Happy". He is a ten-time Grammy Award winner. He is known for his unique vocal techniques, including giving the illusion of polyphony by singing an accompaniment alongside the melody, making use of percussive effects and making large jumps in pitch; as well as improvising much of his performed music, including melody, chords and sounds in a form of scat singing. He is nearly unique in having performed and recorded regularly as an unaccompanied solo vocal artist. However, he also collaborated frequently with other artists, from both the jazz and classical worlds.