Independent artist and musician Madison McFerrin has come into her own. Madison holds a fruitful and robust solo career with three self produced EPs and numerous performances and curatorships across the country and internationally. Madison’s distinct vocal and meticulously layered stylings of a capella and self-harmonizing culminate in work that blends the genres of R&B, pop, soul and jazz, all with a sense of softness. Her genre-bending work has led to Questlove dubbing her early sound “soul-appella,” AdHoc to describe her work as “an oasis of serenity,” and The FADER noting how Madison’s “warm harmonies feel effortless.” The throughline of Madison’s work is independence and she is often looking towards a kind of inner liberation. Whether she is writing about understanding one’s intuition and inner beauty or the cyclical violence of anti-Blackness and sexism, Madison explores how to get free and how to care for oneself along the way. In this, Madison works at the intersection of artistry and community building. She often looks back and honors a Black music canon while creating her own unique style, utilizing her voice as a central instrument and drawing upon lifelong inspirations like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Erykah Badu, Pharell, Missy Elliot, and the Spice Girls. She is in community with other artists, cultural workers, and activists, and has been able to prioritize the work of women and POC in her curatorial tenures at venues like C’mon Everybody, the WNYC Greene Space and the BRIC Jazz festival. The result of Madison’s work is an enduring commitment to finding ways to think better, express ourselves honestly, and nurture a sense of possibility. Born in San Francisco as the youngest sibling and only girl of three, Madison grew up and lived across the US throughout her adolescence and into early adulthood. As a young child, her earliest and fondest memories were singing and performing at impromptu home concerts and climbing trees, finding a sense of home and safety as she moved physical homes. Madison’s lineage is also strongly rooted in music and performance. Her earliest influences in her home were her father, Bobby McFerrin, a ten-time Grammy winning world renowned vocalist and classical conductor. Madison’s older brother, producer, Taylor McFerrin, was also a musical influence drawing her attention to the nuances of Timbaland’s production and exposing her to a wide range of sounds from Brazil to Brooklyn. All of these influences grow from her grandparents’ rich musical legacy, which includes her grandfather’s historic contract with the Metropolitan Opera and grandmother’s sought after guidance as an award winning vocal coach. From this, music and performance became a home of its own for Madison.
The liberty of expression became a grounding mechanism and a means to understand herself and the changing landscapes around her. Music is also an entrypoint for Madison to have global conversations and to reach listeners and artists with the language of music and tradition. The language of soul, jazz, dance, and more are all ways of connecting intergenerationally, internationally, and across the diaspora. Madison’s process is concerned with this act of translation; translating her own experiences and her own emotions outward. Madison brings herself into the story and invites the listener to do the same. Madison completed her BA in professional music from Berklee College of Music in Boston and began her independent career shortly thereafter in Brooklyn. Her first solo show sold out to a warm crowd of peers, fans, and friends and she continued to perform in and around New York with sustained support. She has performed at venues such as Lincoln Center, Central Park SummerStage and BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn, as well as at festivals including SXSW and the Pitchfork Midwinter Fest at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was at her 2018 SXSW debut show that legendary KCRW DJ Anne Litt remarked about Madison’s show, “there’s some sort of joy and beauty in the way that she performs that really drew me in all that much more.” While performing, she has shared the stage with other established artists such as Nai Palm from Haitus Kaiyote, Alice Smith, Aretha Frnklin, De La Soul, Gallant and The Roots. Madison’s work has gained her recognition across several music platforms as she was named one of Pitchfork’s Rising Artists as well as a finalist in the NPR tiny desk concert series in 2017. Her work has traveled far and wide online as well, where her performance of her inspiring single “TRY” for the youtube performance series, COLORS has garnered nearly two million views. Off the stage, Madison’s music has been featured in episodes of Comedy Central’s Broad City and HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness. In addition to her own performance practice, Madison’s community building and curatorial practice has taken shape in various ways. Notably, in 2019, she initiated the Sissieretta Series at C’mon Everybody in Brooklyn, New York. This series is named after Madame Sissieretta Jones who was an extremely successful opera singer who created her own shows that allowed Black performers to exercise their craft outside of the humiliation of minstrelsy. Drawing inspiration from this legacy, Madison created a showcase of all women of color performers of varying genres, from comedy to poetry to music. As co-curator of the BRIC jazz festival in 2021, Madison presented artists ranging from modern avant garde experimentalist L’Rain to the legendary Sun Ra Arkestra to showcase the expansive notion of Black performance rooted in jazz. Lastly, in the summer of 2022, Madison took her communal work to new heights with the Summer Friday series presented in collaboration with the Brooklyn Bridge Conservancy and her MAD LOVE initiative. Jump started by her viral response to the landmark verdict in the George Floyd case, proceeds from her improvised house track “GUILTY” go to the MAD LOVE fund that aims to bring joy and justice to communities impacted by police brutality. The three installments of the Summer Fridays series focused on the themes of RELEASE, RESTORE & REJOICE with DJs, comedians and musicians providing some much needed space for healing from the collective trauma and grief of the pandemic. Madison’s forthcoming debut I Hope You Can Forgive Me represents an evolution in her career as she finds ways to improvise and self-produce in the midst of an ever changing global pandemic landscape. Following the a cappella projects that corralled early fans (Finding Foundations Vol. I and II), she collaborated with her older brother, Taylor McFerrin, for her subsequent EP, You + I, her first project with instrumentation. I Hope You Can Forgive Me builds upon that next step sonically while exploring themes of love, self preservation, fear, and conjuring. A majority of the tracks on I Hope You Can Forgive Me are produced by Madison, a newly refined skill she honed during the pandemic. In addition to being a producer and arranger, she is also an instrumentalist, playing bass, synth, and creating background vocals for several of the tracks. The intimate album’s sole feature is her father, Bobby McFerrin. Late last year, Madison released a groovy, soulful single, “Stay Away (From Me)” alongside a vibrant visual, artfully juxtaposing hypnotic, danceable instrumentals with lyrics that tackle the uncertainty of our times and her inner struggle with anxiety. In February, she released the single “(Please Don’t) Leave Me Now”, continuing to deliver compelling vocals, euphonious melodies, and a delightful blend of electronic, pop, jazz, and soul with undeniable technique and expressive depth. In March during Women’s History Month, Madison followed up with the self-produced “God Herself”, a song swirling with divine feminine energy and sultry, powerful vocals. Most recently, she released “Utah”, the album’s most pop-leaning track, which explores life’s curious synchronicities. Madison eagerly anticipates sharing this music with her growing global community of fans on her upcoming I Hope You Can Forgive Me Tour.