It’s not often a teacher and one of her prize students get asked onstage in the same night by a world-renowned vocal innovator and multiple Grammy Award winner like Bobby McFerrin. But that’s exactly what happened when McFerrin asked McNally Smith College of Music’s Judi Donaghy and her student Elizabeth Pugh to join in singing with him during his Twin Cities concert at Orchestra Hall on April 22.
Donaghy, Voice Instructor and Assistant to the Dean at McNally Smith, has sung since 2001 with McFerrin and is a working member of McFerrin’s a cappella group, Voicestra. Not long ago, she completed her fourth European tour with the ensemble. She’s currently featured twice on the new McNally Smith Faculty album, 7 Song Cycle, available online at as a free download and at select records stores throughout the metro. She teamed up again at Orchestra Hall with the polyphonic singer who lived and worked in the Twin Cities in 1994 as the Creative Chair of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
McFerrin is perhaps best known for his pop hit, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and a string of critically acclaimed and popular solo and collaborative works in various genres and mediums. Donaghy sang to McFerrin’s accompaniment on “Mere Words.” He then invited McNally Smith Senior Elizabeth Pugh to join them for “Grace,” one of his hits recorded with Yo Yo Ma, laying in the background while he led the audience in song.
“Bobby is a virtuoso,” Donaghy said of the evening. “He can handle the stage alone better than any vocalist, yet makes the most of the evening by bringing in the audience to share the experience. I am so grateful to know Bobby, not only as a musical hero, but as a friend and mentor. It’s always an honor and always fun to sing with him!”
Judi has a broad career in music. She’s worked in opera, musical theater, jazz, folk, country, gospel, pop, and R&B. She currently works with McFerrin’s Voicestra, Urbanstride, the Girls, the Wolverine’s Classic Jazz Orchestra, JazzMN Big Band, and Judi, Cliff ‘n’ Daves. She has also worked with Yo Yo Ma, Carole King, Janis Siegel, Rhiannon, Garrison Keillor, Marilyn McCoo, the Plymouth Ensemble, Metro Jam, Northrop Opera, Mixed Blood Theater, Cricket Theater, and Moore by Four.
Other credits include award-winning singer/songwriter (JAZZIZ Magazine), on-air talent, jingle singer/writer/producer, and vocal jazz clinician. Judi has sung on more than 30 CDs to date, two of which are her own productions: “Sink or Swing”, and “Ballads and Bossas.” Judi has given vocal master classes and clinics with McFerrin at the Omega Institute and the Stimmen Voice Festival in Basel, Switzerland.
For more information about McFerrin, visit his web site at www.bobbymcferrin.com.Newer: McNally Smith Alum Earns Esteemed Community Service Award
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