Bobby McFerrin: A Redeeming Vocalist

I love this statement by Bobby McFerrin. I adamantly agree that artists have great opportunity to be redeeming and encouraging. I sincerely try to assume responsibility for my repertoire and musical approach. I’m interested to know how other vocalists make choices in choosing repertoire and interpreting lyrics.

  • Would you present lyrics that you don’t agree with? If so, would the audience know? 
  • Do you feel you have responsibilities as an artist? If so, what are they?
  • Would you sing a song from someone else’s perspective? Is it important that the audience know’s the voice/perspective? 

The quote featured above is from an interview with Bobby on spirituality & it’s impact on his life & music. The interview coincided with the release of his album spirityouall. I first listened to the extended interview on youtube, and later found the original interview & transcript that was posted on

I’ve posted a few other quotes from Bobby’s “extended interview” below. What do you think?

Context for the featured quote:
“I’ve always felt that artists have a huge responsibility because the culture looks at them as a way of interpreting what’s going on. So I think it’s important for artists to be redeeming – offer things that are redeeming – things that are going to lift people…encourage them. So you do have to be careful with what you say, what the material is because there’s a lot of material out there that bleeds violence.”
“I like to think that regardless of how you came into the concert hall…that you’ll leave differently. I think that’s part of my job description as an artist…moving people to make important changes in their lives. If you came in mad…angry… you leave forgiving. If you came in bitter, you leave merciful.”
“I’m not so much into people being wowed over my technique or what I can do. …That’s just a vehicle for me – that’s just a vehicle for my spirit. If there’s any one thing I want, it’s for people to have…or to feel that sense of joy. The joy that I feel just being able to sing. …And getting a room full of strangers to sing together – what a joyful experience that is for me. I love it.”

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