Madison McFerrin's songs and storytelling dazzle the Free At Noon crowd - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

“I literally got asked to play this gig not 24 hours ago,” Madison McFerrin told the World Cafe Live crowd today. “I just happened to be in town.” It’s true — the North Carolina indie rock band The Nude Party was slated to play this week’s Free At Noon concert, but sickness derailed their plans. McFerrin, who is playing two nights at Union Transfer this week opening up for a filmmaker and musician Terence Nance, was graciously able to pinch hit for today’s set, and she dazzled the crowd with a performance of songs from her outstanding new album I Hope You Can Forgive Me, out now.

Taking the stage with her laptop providing Ableton accompaniment, McFerrin dove into her music, which is build on cascading layers of synths, beats, and her dynamic voice. “I don’t know if you guys know this, but women only make up 2.8% of producers in the music industry,” she said as “OMW” eased into “Testify.” “I also don’t know if you know, but I produced 70% of my album myself, so the majority of what you’re hearing, I did myself, and I’m pretty proud of that.”

Not only is she a commanding singer and songwriter, she’s a charismatic storyteller, and as the set rolled on, her introductions gave context for the songs we were hearing. A story about getting in a scary car crash on an icy highway outside of Chicago led into “(Please Don’t) Leave Me Now,” underscoring its themes about being grateful for life. A lively version of “Utah” also had an automotive theme, as McFerrin said it was written on a cross-country road trip she and her fiancee took during the pandemic, and how the only fights they got in were while passing through the 45th state. “Run,” a collaboration with her father Bobby McFerrin, stemmed from finding out that her great-great-great grandmother escaped enslavement; an art piece video was recently filmed for it, and she hopes to release it later this year. And on the soaring closer “God Herself,” McFerrin reflected on the creative process, describing the writing of the song as a cosmic process where the music “was sent through me.”

McFerrin’s set also included a highly dancebale performance of “Stay Away (From Me)” and a singalong to “Try”; listen below, and catch McFerrin tonight at Union Transfer, or headlining later this year when WXPN Welcomes her to MilkBoy on September 16th. Tickets and more information can be found at our Concerts and Events page; for more on McFerrin, go here.

Madison McFerrin Free at Noon - 05.26.2023
Madison McFerrin
Free At Noon
  • OMW
  • Testify
  • (Please Don't) Leave Me Now
  • Stay Away (From Me)
  • Utah
  • Run
  • Try
  • God Herself
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