An Autistic Teen’s Guide To Impersonating Michael Jackson (A Must Read)

Sources: Kuow.org | All Things Michael

Impersonating Michael Jackson made it easier for Lorenzo Manuel to deal with the social pressures of middle school.

Impersonating Michael Jackson made it easier for Lorenzo Manuel to deal with the social pressures of middle school.

It was homecoming dance at Roosevelt High School, and the Roosevelt football team had just been crushed. As it started getting late, the energy sunk even lower. People were mostly slow dancing; it was all Taylor Swift at that point.

Just then, a familiar tune started to play. The thinning crowd began to roar. A spotlight came on. As the first lyrics of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” shook the room, a skinny kid with short brown hair and a sparkly glove began to dance.

“When I impersonated, I just kind of would think… like, what would Michael do?”

That skinny kid was Lorenzo Manuel, now a senior at Roosevelt. But he just goes by his first name, Lorenzo. His story started when he was 13 years old. It was the night Michael Jackson died, and for Lorenzo it was a near-cosmic shift.

“The night he died,” Lorenzo said, “I had this dream where I was in a field and he was at an ice cream cone stand, and he gave me an ice cream cone.”

This mystifying dream had an unexpected effect. Lorenzo felt called to impersonate Michael Jackson.

He had just been diagnosed with autism, though he had known his whole life that he didn’t quite fit in with the other kids. He couldn’t handle the social pressures of middle school.

The cover to 18-year-old Lorenzo's self-produced first album includes a tribute to his idol. Can you spot the Michael Jackson face hidden in the image?

The cover to 18-year-old Lorenzo’s self-produced first album includes a tribute to his idol. Can you spot the Michael Jackson face hidden in the image?

“People were bullying me because I was a little bit more feminine, because I was more artistic, and people would call me gay,” Lorenzo said. “And even though I am gay, back then it was just hard, and I didn’t know it then.”

His mom, Christine, remembers him coming home from school every day depressed and confused about the teasing. She even considered transferring him to a different school.

But impersonating Michael Jackson changed all that. With Lorenzo’s newfound passion, he started having easier interactions with his peers. He would even pretend to be Michael Jackson when he felt uncomfortable in social situations. He felt a connection to Michael. They were both shy people with an almost obsessive interest in music. When he couldn’t rely on his own skills, he called on Michael’s.

The response Lorenzo got for impersonating Michael Jackson surprised him. People at school became more accepting of him, not less. Most surprising, even Lorenzo’s dad seemed to accept him more. “He’s usually very critical,” said Lorenzo. “And the fact that he was pretty accepting of it … that was one of the reasons I wanted to keep pursuing it.”

Lorenzo’s idol is ever present in his life. He pointed out a prized possession in what he called the Michael Jackson area of his bedroom: “He actually signed this paper. See? That’s his writing.”

Lorenzo’s bedroom also includes a Michael Jackson cut-out from the “Bad” era, an old turntable with records, and some collectible dolls. One is still in its box from 1995, the year Lorenzo was born.

But being Michael wasn’t enough. Now, through years of studying how to be someone else, Lorenzo has found a way to be himself. Through Michael, he has found acceptance for his own creativity and ingenuity.

“I definitely knew I was an artist,” mused Lorenzo, “because of all the different phases I’ve gone through with drawing, and painting, and acting, and singing, and dancing, and music, and photography. I just knew I was meant to do something in the arts.”

Now, his days of impersonation are behind him. He’s started writing, recording, and performing his own music. “I really enjoy that,” said Lorenzo. “And performing as myself now … I feel a lot more free.”

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12-Year-Old Minneapolis Singer Impresses Michael Jackson’s Mom

Sources: My Fox Twin Cities | All Things Michael

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) – She just 12-years-old, but a Minneapolis singer has a talent that has already caught the attention of the mother who raised the King of Pop — and she’s now traveling to perform in a 3-day tribute to the legend.

“I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan,” Kalayah Jones told Fox 9 News.

Jones has been dancing since she was a baby, but she also sings and raps. For the past two years, she’s made a number of local appearances — including performing at St. Paul’s Rondo Days. Now, she’ll be taking her show on the road to celebrate Michael Jackson’s life at an event hosted by the star’s mother.

“In 1969, introduced to the industry, dropping all types of singles that came up instantly — like ‘A-B-C,'” she performed.

Her youthful talent caught Katherine Jackson’s eye as she practiced dedicating her moves and voice to the pop icon. After spotting her on YouTube, the music mogul’s mom invited Jones to come to his hometown and bring some Twin Cities love to the 5th annual tribute.

“I represent the Twin Cities!” Jones exclaimed. “Minnesota, baby!”

Jones’ mother is a strong sideline supporter. She’s takes her daughter to perform at talent shows, events and award shows all year round.

“It’s refreshing to see her do music that the kids like, that’s still age-appropriate, that they can groove to at the same time,” Kimberly Hollifield reflected.

Most recently, Jones passed along her song about Minnesota Lynx MVP Maya Moore called ‘I’m an All-Star’ to the baller herself.

“My song is the theme, or the anthem, for the games when she comes out,” Jones explained.

From her mentor to back up dancers and a song-writer DJ, Jones has a team of support — and she hopes you’ll join up by seeing her perform once she returns from Indiana.

“I want to sing, rap, dance,” she said. “It’s just really fun. I want to do this for the rest of my life.”

Jones leaves for Indiana on Wednesday, but she’s also working on an album that is set to drop in the fall.

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Pay It Forward: Special Program Uses Music Eduction to Empower DC Students

Sources: ABC7 – By Monica McNutt | All Things Michael

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – Jeffery Tribble Jr. and Diane Granger were both members of the Howard University Marching Band. After they graduated they wanted to use music education as a gateway to help young people be successful. So, the two sought guidance and The Musicianship launched in 2009.

This year, “Diane’s Recital” entertained a full house in the auditorium at Wilson High School.

“I feel the beat, hey, get out of your seat,” the band and dancers chanted, to the rhythm provided by the drumline.

Family and friends happily obliged as the band broke out into a compilation of hits like Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You,” as well as a little hometown flavor with some go-go beats.

When the final number ended, The Musicianship received a standing ovation.

“I’m from the south side of Chicago, so a lot of what these students deal with day to day, I encountered, and my friends encountered, growing up,” Executive Director Jeffery Tribble Jr., a fulltime government contractor, said.  “To be able to provide this opportunity for kids who are similarly situated I think is what drives me to do it.”

The Musicianship targets student musicians from underprivileged areas in the city like Wards 7 and 8. Many of the participants are placed in the program through the District’s Summer Youth and Employment program.

“I’ve learned how to be proud of who I am and my music and to be willing to accept change,” 17 year-old Yasmeen Webb said. “The Musicianship is about growing who you are as a person, and working with other people.”

Webb will be a senior at Bell Multicultural in the fall.

The discipline and focus it takes to successfully perform in a band are the same tools that these students will need to be successful in other aspects of life, Tribble Jr. says.

Fourteen-year-old Elijah Singeltary will be a freshman at Ballou High School when the school year begins.

“It’s taught me more patience – how to control my energy until that one moment when we really need it,” he said. “It teaches you a life lesson because you get to meet different people and you learn how to cooperate to make one good quality sound, rather than different sounds.”

The young musicians don’t just use making music to learn lessons; they also participate in college readiness and career panels.

The summer program lasts six weeks. In the fall, The Musicianship will partner with select area schools to offer after-school programming.

Their work will continue not only through the collective efforts of the program, but through those that have already passed through.

“I just want to make a difference,” 17-year-old band member Erica Moore said.

Her focus prior to participating in The Musicianship was solely graduating high school and getting to college.

“It showed me that thinking of other people is better than thinking of myself,” she added. “Inspiring a bunch of little kids and doing what I love to do, it changed my whole entire life, really.”

Read more: http://www.wjla.com/articles/2014/08/pay-it-forward-special-program-uses-music-education-to-empower-d-c-students-106182.html#ixzz3AmWWn4T9

The Stars Of Tomorrow: Talented Kids Found On YouTube

Sources: VH-1.com – By Rahsheeda Ali | All Things Michael

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Justin Bieber got started as a Canadian kid showcasing his talent through YouTube videos. However, he wasn’t the only youngster using the video site to cover popular songs and display some serious music skills.

Maria Aragon‘s rendition of “Born This Way” eventually led to a duet with Lady Gaga, while a teen channeled Michael Jackson during his school’s talent show. Who are the other musically gifted kids who’ve wowed us via YouTube?

Though the performance wasn’t directly made for YouTube, Brett Nichols gained fame through the site after his talent show performance went viral. The teen emulated Michael Jackson’s dance moves from the “Billie Jean” video and won tons of fans in the process. Check the clip around the 1:10 mark.

Frozen’s “Let It Go” is clearly one of the year’s biggest songs. While other kids may have taken to YouTube and used the song to show off their vocals, Andrew Foy went a different route. Watch as he hits us with an acoustic version of the track.

There are few music teachers who’d let their students cover Tool’s “Forty Six & 2.” However, Aaron O’Keefe made a splash last year after posting his pupils rocking out to the song.

Kids aren’t just setting up cameras in their homes to get noticed. There are also children starring in slick productions made especially for digital audiences. Watch this amazing rendition of Adele’s “Skyfall” by Mariangeli Collado, a star of the series HitStreak.

This kid covered Lorde’s “Royals” while simply being recorded on a smartphone. Needless to say, he totally gave the New Zealand star a run for her money!

Maria Aragon won over Lady Gaga, along with countless others, when she covered the star’s hit, “Born This Way.” Just like her idol, Aragon had both the vocal and instrumental chops to take us by storm. She even ended up performing live with Gaga during the singer’s tour!

Chloe and Halle Bailey used their powerful harmonies for an amazing cover of Beyoncé’s “Best Thing I Never Had.” There’s no doubt these sisters are poised for stardom.

Eleven-year-old YouTube star MattyB has crafted a niche for himself, offering a pint-sized swagger to his popular covers. Watch as he takes on Justin Bieber’s early hit, “Boyfriend.”

Twelve-year-old Samantha Potter took on John Legend’s “All Of Me,” adding a slightly different style to the R&B crooner’s hit. We would love it if he tapped the young up-and-comer for a duet!

What’s the easiest way to make Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” even more of a feel-good song? How about having an elementary school choir cover it? Kids at the Detroit Academy Of Arts And Sciences hit some crazy harmonies when singing the song during a school performance.

Read more at VH-1

11-Year-Old Jase Nelson Writes Michael Jackson Tribute For 5th Anniversary

Source: Red Dear Advocate – By Lana Michelin| All Things Michael

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Eleven-year-old singer Jase Nelson is such a huge Michael Jackson fan that he wrote a tribute song for the King of Pop on the fifth anniversary of his death.

The Central Alberta youth enthuses about seeing Jackson’s This is It concert documentary film “about 12 times” and adds, “I really miss how he lit the stage and his creativity.”

We Miss You Michael was one of several tunes Jase recently recorded with Los Angeles music producer Andrew Lane, who’s worked with the Backstreet Boys and Irene Cara, as well as on recordings for Hannah Montana and the platinum-selling High School Musical.

“He made (Miley Cyrus) into Hannah Montana,” says Jase, who’s now signed to Lane’s recording label, Drew Right Music Inc.

The heavyweight producer approached Jase’s grandmother, Maggie Hewitt, to say he was interested in working with her grandson after being “bowled over” by Jase’s a cappela performance of The Kite from the musical You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown at a performing workshop in Los Angeles.

Hewitt recalls, “I wasn’t even sure if he was serious,” until Lane assured her he was.

Last week, Jase cut several singles in L. A., including We Miss You Michael (written by Jase and Hewitt and reworked by Lane), a revamp of the Sam Cooke song Cupid and Waking Up, a new tune written by Lane that will be used in a short Calgary-made film about bullying that Jase appears in as an actor.

Jase says he really enjoyed recording both the lead vocals and harmonies on the tracks, and listening to Lane’s guidance on how to deliver the emotional lyrics.

Hewitt recalls Lane was amazed at how quickly Jase could grasp new material. But it probably helped that the home-schooled Central Albertan plays piano, guitar and ukulele — Jase says if Lane told him you’re a little flat or sharp, “I could understand exactly what he was saying.”

Recording with the seasoned producer was an “amazing” experience, concludes the affable youth, whose long blond hair makes him reminiscent of the Hanson brothers of MMMBop fame.

Hewitt says Lane intends to send copies of Jase’s singles to larger recording labels, as well as to radio stations, iTunes and YouTube. Lane’s support indicates the Red Deer County-based singer now has a whole coterie of high-profile people in his corner, including his Calgary-based manager and a New York City-based talent agency.

Jase has known he’s wanted to perform since the age of five, when his grandma heard him singing along to a Justin Timberlake song and asked if he wanted to take singing lessons. His response? “Let’s move to New York. I want to be on Broadway!”

The singer, who studies with Calgary vocal coach Brian Farrell (who has worked with k.d. lang, Sarah McLachlan and Paul Brandt) confirms this is still his goal.

To try to reach it, he’s spent much of his childhood performing in various Alberta talent competitions and rodeos — including the Calgary Stampede. Hewitt says Jase also regularly sings the Canadian anthem at Blackfalds Wranglers games and some involving the Bentley Generals.

Experience has already taught him to take his knocks: For every audition or competition he lands, Jase says there have been dozens that he doesn’t. “They say you have to do 50 or 100 auditions to get one or two. It doesn’t bother me,” adds the youth, who spends a lot of time in various dance and music classes and workshops to keep honing his skills.

Hewitt believes it’s probably no more time than someone would spend playing minor hockey.

While the pitfalls that can entrap young performers, including alcohol and drugs, are scary, Hewitt believes these same problems can befall oilfield workers — or anyone else for that matter.

She stressed that she will support Jase no matter what he wants to do. “If he wants to teach voice or piano someday, it would be a success story. If he chooses to perform, then we’ll try to give him whatever tools are necessary to live his dream.”

 

Read more at Red Dear Advocate

 

Ten Of The Coolest Preschoolers On The Internet

Source: She Knows – By Deidre Key

Feeling discouraged for the next generation? We found 10 kids who started working towards goals (charitable, physical and otherwise) while they were still in preschool. Their determination will not only make you rethink your cynicism but probably put your own life choices into perspective.

Gonna Make A Change

Little Lemonade Girl

At 4 years old, Alex Scott decided she wanted to open a lemonade stand to raise money to cure cancer, a disease she was living with. 10 years after she lost her battle, kids are still having lemonade stands in her honor and donating their money to cancer charities.

Socially Conscious Activist

Another awesome 4-year-old who wanted to make a difference: Bilaal Rajan, who started the Hands for Help charity while still in preschool. Five years later, at 9 years old, Rajan became a UNICEF Ambassador. So, what are you doing with your life?

Tiny Dancers

Popping and Locking Asian Twins

Ellen recently replaced Rosie and Sophia Grace with these super cute dancing Taiwanese twins. Not only are they adorable and great with choreography, but Zony and Yony also enjoy teaching Ellen how to speak Mandarin.

4-Year-Old Michael Jackson Impersonator

So many moves. Michael Jackson was a legend, right? If this shorty keeps practicing, he’ll be on his way to Vegas to party with the Elvis impersonators.

Remarkably Small Musicians

The 3-year-old Violinist

Anyone else remember the shrieking sounds our violins made when we tried to get involved in the school orchestra? We had about 10 years on this kid and still couldn’t nail it.

A 5-year-old Blind Pianist

Shut. up. Even with subtitles, the interview with this adorable kid is seriously sweet. Then, when she finally plays! Why do we even try to succeed when there are preschoolers out there doing stuff like this?

A Set of North Korean Kids Playing Guitar

The comment on this video might be right: It’s a little creepy to see such miniature children playing with such precision. Do they ever go out and play… or is it all guitar all the time? We can’t deny the sheer talent.

Seriously Sporty Squirts

Smallest bada** in Honolua Bay

At 4 years old, Steve Roberson tackled the same waves as his dad… but on his own surfboard. His mom seemed apprehensive, but this kid was ready to rock.

PintSsized Half-Piper

As grownups, we’re still too afraid to try the half-pipe. Schaeffer McLean showed us up by mastering it when he was only 5.

4-year-old Future Winter Olympian

Bailey Duran was only 4 years old when videos of her doing snowboarding jumps appeared on YouTube. Soon enough, she was placing in national competitions and finding herself coming in first during most of them.

Feeling inspired? Your kids can be just as talented or driven with a little encouragement from their heroes. (That’s you.)

Kid’s Michael Jackson Dance Crushes Classmates At School Talent Show

Source: WTVR.com

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A high school student at Pitman High School in Turlock, California wowed the crowd during his school’s talent show with this rendition of Michael Jackson’s classic “Billie Jean.”

Needless to say, the student was crowned the winner of the show.

Skip ahead to the 1:11 mark to watch the jaw-dropping performance.

 

Read more: http://wtvr.com/2014/05/21/michael-jackson-talent-show-dance/

McCarthy Fifth Graders Showcase Their Talents

Source: Framingham Patch – By Susan Petroni – Pictures By Kevin Cummings

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McCarthy staff and teachers created a special video for the talent show, in which the adults performed the Michael Jackson classic Beat It.

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Fifth grade students entertained classmates, parents and Framingham residents with their talent Friday night at Fuller Middle School.

The annual fundraising event showcased fifth grade students singing, dancing, playing of musical instruments, performing skits and more.

McCarthy staff and teachers created a special video for the talent show, in which the adults performed the Michael Jackson classic Beat It.

There was also a flash mob to the song What Does The Fox Say.

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Read more: http://framingham.patch.com/groups/schools/p/slideshow-mccarthy-fifth-graders-showcase-their-talents