Watch the “Youngest String Quartet Ever” Perform Vivaldi, Michael Jackson And Katy Perry

Sources: Open Culture | All Things Michael


They’re billed as “the youngest string quartet ever.” The kids began playing in The Joyous String Quartet when they were four years old. Now, fast forward four more years, and they find themselves performing 20 concerts a year around the globe — in places like South Korea and China, and on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Above you can watch them perform Summer “Presto” by Vivaldi.

Below, they give you a classical version of Katy Perry’s “Firework:

And finally Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”

In case you’re wondering, the students come out of The Joyous Music School in Hicksville, NY.

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Maya Angelou And Michael Jackson Will Be The Theme Of The African American Arts And Heritage Academy Summer Program

Sources: | All Things Michael


The African American Arts & Heritage Academy is now accepting applications for its July 13-18 summer academy, which will be held on the campus of West Virginia University, in Morgantown, West Virginia. This year’s theme will focus on Maya Angelou and Michael Jackson.

The academy offers students 13 to 18 years of age one week of concentrated study in an artistic discipline of their choice. Classes and workshops will focus on dance, vocal, instrumental, string music and steel drum playing, theater arts, visual arts, creative writing, song writing and history/culture. A songwriting course has been added for those who have a gift for writing and would like to manifest their words into songs.

The academy will accept approximately 40 students to attend the academy. At the end of the week, the students will present a showcase for faculty, guests and the public.

During the week of the academy, students will join a community of gifted peers and will experience artistic and cultural challenges geared toward their age. They will study a concentrated topic from professional artists and teachers.

The students will also attend specialized field studies hosted by the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation’s STEM program.

Donations for the academy to assist in operational expenses and programming are welcome. Checks should be made payable to AAAHA and submitted to Jacqueline Dooley, Administrative Director, Student Activities P.O. Box 6444, Morgantown, WV 26505

For more information or to request an application, contact Dooley at (304) 657-1801 or Applications are available online. The activity fee for the academy is $210 per student.


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BWW Interviews Reed Shannon Of Motown National Tour

Sources: Broadway World – By  | All Things Michael


Coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center from February 17th-22th is the national touring production of Motown: The Musical featuring Reed Shannon in the roles of Young Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson.

Reed has appeared in productions of The Who‘s Tommy, In the Heights, Oliver!, and Les Miserables at North Carolina Theatre.

JK: To start things off, do you remember your first introduction to the music of Motown?

RS: Well, I don’t remember exactly when I knew it was Motown, but I remember when we would go on trips, we’d play it in the car. Like at Christmas, we would play Christmas Motown. All the time, there would be Motown all around me.

JK: So how did the opportunity come about for you to audition for the musical?

RS: When I was 12 years old, I looked up online an audition for Motown, and there was one that was a week away on Friday the 13th. It was an open call, and I asked my parents if I could go, and they said yes, but only if I do good in school. I did, and so they took me to the auditions where there was over 700 people there. I auditioned, then I waited. They called back to go to New York again for a Michael Jackson workshop.

JK: I guess that Friday the 13th must’ve been a real lucky day for you?

RS: Yes, it was. After that audition, they asked me to do a video audition for the Michael Jackson workshop.

JK: When did you find out that you got cast?

RS: We were in Harlem the day after the Michael Jackson workshop. I performed in front of Mr. Gordy, then they called my dad’s phone and asked if I could be in the national tour. Of course I said yes.

JK: How does it feel for you to be playing three different music icons (Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson) at such a young age?

RS: It feels really amazing because I get to show the love of what my generation can bring to the table, so that the older people who were listening to the music when it was out know we understand the story. It’s really breathtaking that I get to play and meet two of the three icons.

JK: What was it like to meet both Mr. Gordy and Mr. Wonder?

RS: I didn’t pass out, but I was on the edge of it. It was amazing! We met Mr. Gordy many times in Chicago and Detroit where I also met Mr. Wonder. Mr. Gordy is one of the nicest human beings on Earth and Mr. Wonder is the most hilarious non-comedian out there!

JK: What a wonder!

RS: Yes.

JK: So what are you enjoying most about traveling around the country doing this show so far?

RS: Meeting all the people is really, really great! I meet different people in every different city and I make connections for when I go somewhere else.

JK: Since you’re a child actor, you don’t necessarily go on all the time. What do you normally do on nights when you don’t have to go on?

RS: I still have to be at the theatre in case of an emergency involving the other boy in the show. I basically just sit around and wait for the other boy to go onstage. I play on my computer, I read a book sometimes. Then on one of the days on the weekends, I have school.

JK: For a kid your age, how are you able to keep up with performing four times a week?

RS: I think it’s the passion that keeps me going. I have my parents with me, and I’m glad that they discipline me enough so I could sleep. If I didn’t, I would be up all the time.

JK: You were trained at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory, what was your experience like there? Any special memories?

RS: All my memories are from there! The first time I had a solo in the group, I made friends that I’m gonna have for the rest of my life. My whole life is right there! The teachers basically taught me everything I know.

JK: It must be a second home for you.

RS: Yeah, it’s great being home!

JK: As you’re growing up, are there any dream roles you’d love to pursue in the future?

RS: Not that I know of. I mean, if somebody brings something to me and I like it, I guess I’ll go for it. But there’s no certain role that I’d like to do yet. I guess I would like to go on and do TV and movies, but I would also like to do Broadway in New York.

JK: Sometimes, the dream roles may find you rather than you finding them.

RS: Right.

JK: Is there any advice you would like to give any kids out there wanting to pursue a career in the theatre?

RS: Definitely keep on training. Get as much experience in shows as possible, because it will all pay off when you get a role. Also, to keep on doing school.

JK: Reed, I thank you very much for devoting your time to this interview, and I wish you the best of luck withMotown!

RS: Thank you so much!


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Eleven Year Old Returns From Broadway After Playing Michael Jackson

Sources: Deadline Detroit | All Things Michael

all things michael edit

He’s only 11, and he’s already had a great run performing on Broadway.

Detroit’s own Samuel Pickens, a student at the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences, has returned home after performing nightly as Michael Jackson on Broadway in ‘Motown: The Musical’ since September, WXYZ reports.

The station reports that he rubbed elbows with celebrities and fans. Samuel got some notoriety after the YouTube video of him his classmates went viral. He was the lead singer in that video in which the students sang Pharell’s song “Happy.”

He’s glad to be back home “because I’m with my friends and family,” Samuel tells WXYZ.  “And I get to talk to them again.”

“It was amazing to play somebody who was one of my biggest role models, that was awesome.” said Samuel, “It’s Michael Jackson we’re talking about!”


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Young Dancer And Her Team Wins Gold Medal For MJ Routine At The World Tap Dance Championships

Sources: The Hinckley Times – By Rachel Parris| All Things Michael


Teenage tap sensation Olivia Huckvale has danced her way to an international gold medal for the second year running.

The 15-year-old John Cleveland College student from Earl Shilton, who is a member of the England tap team, was in the winning junior formation team that competed at the World Tap Dance Championships held in Riesa in Germany earlier this month.

She was among a group of about 20 young dancers tapping a routine to a medley of Michael Jackson music.

Last year Olivia, a student of Eloquent Dance Academy in Hinckley, competed as part of a trio that scooped gold in its category title in the international dance-off.

The English team also won the senior formation category, making a double first for any country in the competition, and meaning that every dancer came back with a gold medal.


Olivia, who hopes to go on to study A-levels alongside dance at a specialist college in Birmingham, said: “I’d like to thank all my friends and family for their support and especially the shoppers at Asda where I did a bag pack to raise funds to help the team get there.”

Her dad, Dave Huckvale, said: “We are all very proud of her for what she has achieved this year.”


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Thriller At Otterton School

Sources: Exmouth Journal – By Sean Keywood | All Things Michael


Pupils at Otterton Primary School have been getting into the groove with a series of street dancing classes.

Year three and four pupils have been attending an after-school club with dance specialist Katie Murray.

To show off what they’d learned from five weeks of sessions, the youngsters performed Michael Jackson’s classic Thriller for their classmates, parents and teachers wearing some suitably scary costumes to go along with their cool moves.


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Teen Dancer Wins World Tap Dancing Championships Performing Michael Jackson’s Working Day And Night

Sources: IWCP | Edited By All Things Michael


Kai Scanlan, 11, Jamie Billings, 14, Spencer Darlaston-Jones, 14,took part in the competition in Riesa with dance company Tap Attack last week.

THE Island’s answer to Billy Elliott has returned from an international competition as a world tap dancing champion.

Spencer Darlaston-Jones, 14, of River View, Whippingham, put on a gold medal winning performance at the World Tap Dancing Championships, held in Reisa, Germany, on December 5.

He won the junior formation event alongside 23 other young dancers, part of the Tap Attack dance group, based in Swindon, representing England.

They danced to Michael Jackson’s Working Day and Night to win first prize, beating off competition from second placed Germany and the Czech Republic, who came third.


Spencer’s triumph was watched on live stream by his family, including proud mum and dad, Suzanne and Spencer senior, as well as his eight-year-old brother, Sebastian, last Friday.

Spencer attends the Red Roofs School for the Performing Arts, based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. The former pupil of Christ the King College, Newport, learned to dance from his mum, Suzanne, who runs the Suzanne School of Dance, East Cowes.

He has already had a small part in the TV detective series, Endeavour, based on the life of the young Inspector Morse.

He has also appeared on stage at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton.

Suzanne said: “He loves to dance and I think it is something he wants to pursue. This is another step along the way.”


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11 Questions With ‘Motown The Musical’s’ Youngest Star

Sources: Kare11 – By Sara Pelissero| All Things Michael

Meet "The Michaels" Leon Outlaw Jr. (left), Reed L. Shannon (right)

Meet “The Michaels” Leon Outlaw Jr. (left), Reed L. Shannon (right)

MINNEAPOLIS – A new musical opens in Minneapolis next week that will take the audience back through some of the greatest hits to ever top the music charts. “Motown the Musical” is the story of Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from a boxer to a legendary music mogul, who helped launch the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and more.

On Tuesday, the show opens at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. But before the stage is lit, we had a chance to chat with one of the production’s youngest stars.

Reed LoRenzo Shannon was trained at NC Theatre Conservatory and has performed in shows like, “In the Heights,” “Oliver!” and recently received rave reviews as Gavroche in “Les Miserable.”

In “Motown the Musical,” Shannon plays young versions of Michael Jackson, Berry Gordy and Stevie Wonder.

Here’s 11 questions with Reed.


1. What is your name? What grade are you in?

Reed LoRenzo Shannon, 8th grade

2. What do you like about the audiences?

Meeting so many new people after shows and putting smiles on people’s faces when I am performing.

3. How do you prepare for your role as Young Berry/Stevie/Michael each night?

Before each performance, I sit and think about everything going on in the world, so when I get on stage I am focused, and I get my rest and eat right.

4. How familiar were you with the Motown hits performed in this show before being cast?

I knew all the songs before I came into the cast, because my parents played Motown songs 24/7!

5. What’s your favorite song in the show to perform?

“I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5

6. What was the last song you downloaded or listened to?

Bo$$ by Fifth Harmony

7. How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a performer?

I was 4 years old when I knew I wanted to perform.

8. You have a number of talents that are showcased in this production. Do you have any hidden talents?

Instagramming, being a comedian, a photographer, and a soon to be YouTuber (making YouTube videos).

9. Have you been to Minnesota before?

No, it will be my first time when Motown comes to town!

10. Are you ready for the cold?

Absolutely not, I am a Tar Heel and from the South, where the sky is blue all the time!

11. If you had to give just one reason why people in Minneapolis should come see this show, what would you say?

Motown shares the history of our lives in America, and everybody is smiling when they leave the show.

“Motown the Musical” runs from Dec. 16 to Dec. 28 at Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. Tickets ($49-$134) are on sale now. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.


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