The voice of co-creation

I’ve been reflecting on creativity for a while now and last night I witnessed a marvelous illustration of its power. I went with with my friend Boyan to Bobby McFerrin‘s solo concert at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria.

It was a fabulous night! We wanted to go there early so we could be in time for breaking the Fast and ended up sitting next to two fascinating ladies, a mother and a daughter jazz singers. The mother, Lori Williams had improvised with Bobby McFerrin earlier that day at the American University:

As we settled and were getting friendly advise from the ladies next to us on what was best on the menu, we read a prayer:

O Divine Providence! As I am abstaining from bodily desires and not occupied with eating and drinking, even so purify and sanctify my heart from the love of anyone save Thyself, and shield and protect my soul from corrupt desires and satanic qualities so that my spirit may commune with the breaths of holiness, and fast from the mention of all else besides Thee.

The prayer lead to a long discussion with our jazzy neighbors on the Baha’i Faith and music. Then there was a wonderful opening act, Sam and Rubi from Nashville, and at last, the time came for Bobby McFerrin to take the stage.

He is such a talent! And that is nothing new to me as I have seen him previously perform with the National Symphony Orchestra and Chick Corea, as well as an MC for a Choir Festival at the Kennedy Center (which seems to have offered some inspiration for his latest CD). Of course millions of people have seen his fabulous demonstration of the power of the Pentatonic Scale:

He lead us through such diverse soundscapes of styles and songs, from whimsy references to American TV staples from days long gone, through Jazz and Classical music, to the closing hilariously condensed rendition of the soundtrack (all character voices included) of “The Wizard of Oz”.

What was most touching to me, though, was witnessing the generosity of Bobby McFerrin’s heart. He invited so many people to sing with him on stage, some in matching (or not so) duets, some in trios, some, including myself, as a small chorale responding to every whim of his voice and gestures. Lauren, the remarkable daughter of our neighbor at the table, did a terrific rendition of “Spain” and another of Bobby McFerrin’s own unrepeatable “standards” in an outstanding demonstration of her own talent, which was a pretty impressive match to the maestro’s own incredible voice and skill.

That generosity of heart we all witnessed last night must stem in our proclivity to create. God created us, in His own image, to create and He must love co-creators! When given the opportunity, or rather when we take advantage of the opportunity to co-create, we probably help the Creator make the world a better place. And God must take pleasure in it, just as we all took pleasure in improvising along with Bobby McFerrin.

Because of that innate instinct to create, as much as I love “consuming” music by passively listening to thousands of CDs, most of all I love to sing and do my own little attempts to create. No joy in music is greater than the joy of creating. I witness it any time I hear my beautiful girls sing their own versions of songs and prayers. And last night, witnessing Bobby McFerrin’s willingness to encourage that creativity in all of us in the audience was awe-inspiring and just happy! I can’t wait for his new CD, “VOCAbuLaries”, which interestingly has, among others, two Bulgarian words on its cover. Can you spot them? Can you spot the Bulgarian voices which no doubt will be in his new CD? More importantly, can you spot your own voice in God’s creation?

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