Madison McFerrin Pays Tribute To Her Dad, Bobby McFerrin, Now An NEA Jazz Master

Sep 2, 2020

Years ago, The Checkout campaigned for Bobby McFerrin to become recognized as a NEA Jazz Master. That milestone happened this year— and his daughter, vocalist Madison McFerrin is here to give thanks for also being an incredible father.

She sat down with me in her Brooklyn apartment the day before New York City declared a coronavirus-related state of emergency. She opened up about her childhood, revealing some ridiculous tales — but she also got serious in reflecting on her father’s career as a vocalist, improviser, composer and arranger.

It’s a history so varied — especially when we bring Madison’s grandfather, Robert McFerrin, Sr., into the equation — that it’s difficult to quantify the family legacy, which will continue to burn brightly in this century with Madison, Jevon, and Taylor.

In this episode we’ll also dive into Madison’s latest EP, You + I, a collaboration with her brother Taylor, an electronic artist and producer. She gives us two takes of her song “Know You Better,” first with just piano and voice, and then performed with her trademark a cappella looping fireworks. “I hear so much of my dad in this,” she says. “I’m not really an improvisational person. That’s dad’s thing. I’ll let him do that. But this is one where I definitely allow myself to get a little weird and I like to figure out what are all the parts that I can come up with that work together.”

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