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April 15, 2004


Musicians can get so caught up in the seriousness of music-making. They forget that Mozart was a really joyful man--he had a lot of fun," says Bobby McFerrin by phone from his Philadelphia home. "Musicians play for a living. Remember that, to think of that word, play. We play our instruments. We play music." Not your everyday singer, McFerrin has an incredible four-octave range (that's 48 keys long on a piano) and a vast array of contrasting vocal techniques.

McFerrin sees himself and other musicians as being here "to lift the spirits of humanity, to feed the soul. That's what our main job is." A strong believer in the healing power of music, McFerrin sees his performances as opportunities for the audience and sometimes even the performer to rise above and transform emotions and even physical symptoms.

"I like to think that our task as musicians is transcendence," he says. "When you're performing in front of people, you don't want them to leave the same way they came in. You know, sometimes when you go to a concert, your heart is closed for one reason or another, you had a fight with your spouse, you just got fired from your job, one of your kids is sick, they cancelled your favorite TV show, who knows. So you're dragged to this concert kicking and screaming, and then all of a sudden something happens, and you're completely changed."

But what if it's McFerrin himself who had the bad day before the concert? "I think I'd rather [perform]," he says, "than sit around and mope and feel sorry for myself, or have my own pity party or get trapped in my own emotions. When I'm confused or angry or upset or something, when my temper is a little bit unbalanced, singing is a really good therapy for me." McFerrin, who has been married to his wife Debbie for almost 30 years and has two sons, says that beyond everything else, he values his family life and being a normal guy and doing normal things in his off time, which he makes sure he has plenty of.

"You know, when you're a celebrity, people just love you, but they don't know you. You go out there and they just love you to death, you know, you're applauded up and down. You lift up a glass of water to take a drink, and they applaud that. You take off your shoes and they applaud, you know, its just incredible!" he says. "It's a crazy, crazy unrealistic life. Your family is what's real, what's supporting you. They know all of your quirks and annoying little habits and they put up with you on a daily basis." More

Posted by acapnews at April 15, 2004 9:17 AM


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