With his latest recording and concert project, “spirit youall,” Bobby McFerrin reconnects to the faith of his childhood. The ten-time Grammy Award-winning vocalist reinterprets seven of the spirituals he heard growing up in a house filled with music, and adds six of his own original tunes and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” to the mix. While Sony Masterworks isn’t scheduled to release the recording until May 14, Boston audiences get a preview when McFerrin and his band present the concert version of “spirityouall” in a Celebrity Series engagement April 14 at Symphony Hall.
At the heart of “spirityouall” is a tribute to McFerrin’s father, Robert McFerrin Sr. The first African-American to become a member of the New York Metropolitan Opera and the singing voice of Sidney Poitier in the film of “Porgy and Bess,” the great baritone was celebrated for his renditions of classic Negro spirituals. His interpretations, characterized by their warmth and authenticity, were influenced by the teaching of his mentor, Hall Johnson, whose grandmother was a slave.