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Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Bobby McFerrin creates harmony


The last time Bobby McFerrin sang his famous song “Don’t Worry Be Happy” live was 1988. That was until he sang it to the Green Music Center audience Friday night. His show continued to be filled with talent, laughter and pure entertainment. 

McFerrin didn’t start off his show traditionally. The stage was casually set, with just a stool, a chair, a microphone and a rather large coffee mug that McFerrin commented on throughout his performance. 

“These are some of the largest coffee mugs I’ve ever seen,” said McFerrin.

His first number was a collection of sounds and guitar riffs with no words. Later as the ushers were letting more people in between songs, he joked, “are there any late comer’s?” Then began moving and singing backwards as if someone had hit the rewind button.

The crowd was in constant joyous laughter throughout the performance because of his jokes and sarcastic whit. He even got the audience to join him in singing classic songs such as “I’m a Little Tea Pot,” “ABC” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” with full choreography. 

Although this was a solo performance, McFerrin used many voices from the audience to add to his show. He even used about 60 audience members as his personal choir for a song. 

McFerrin finished off the show with a mashup of songs from “The Wizard of Oz.” The entire crowd joined him in singing, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and more, along with some dialogue from the movie. 

A standing ovation and roar from the audience brought McFerrin back onto the stage for an encore. Although he hadn’t planned on singing another song, he was kind enough to answer many of the audience members’ questions. 

Discussions arose on how he got started, why he enjoys performing so often and how he stays so spiritual.

When describing why he makes his shows so fun, he said, “I take play very seriously.” 

This refers to when he was little and would take music class and his piano teacher would tell him to “play.” And that is exactly what he did throughout his entire show. 

He played along with the audience, who gladly joined him in his songs. He even conducted a song by jumping from one side of the stage to the other to indicate which key he wanted the audience to sing on. 

A member of the audience asked McFerrin to sing his famous song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” 

“I haven’t performed that song since 1988,” responded McFerrin. 

He wrote the song in New York City in 1986 when he saw a poster on a man and on the bottom of the poster it said “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Because he liked to make up songs as a kid to help him remember things, he wrote that song to remember the quote.

The audience that night received a very special treat when McFerrin performed a verse from the song. It was a magical moment for many fans.

 “It was exactly what I expected,” said audience member Ruth Pangilian. “It was fun, the audience was very involved and he was so engaging.” 

When asked what her favorite part was, Pangilian said, “when he sang that bit from ‘What’s New Pussycat,” and whole crowed followed with ‘woah oo woah ooo woah.’” 

Audience member Eve Lindi was lucky enough to join McFerrin on stage as one of the volunteers to sing in his chorus. 

“I’m a total fan,” Lindi said after the show. “There were so many great things. ‘The Wizard of Oz’…he sang the whole thing.”

Even at 65 years old, McFerrin is still putting on one-of-a-kind shows with energy and charisma that are unmatchable. His spirit and humbleness helped the audience relate and open up to really enjoy the performance. Now that he has finished up a month-long tour in Asia, McFerrin is excited to begin his new tour with Chick Corea in June. 

After his performance, it seemed as if no one in the crowd was ready to leave. It was as if he had created a better sense of community between everyone. Whether they were keeping the night young by enjoying a drink in the Prelude, or heading home to stay up talking about the show, the vibe from the audience was pure joy, as if they were listening to McFerrin telling them, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

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