Michael Jackson Lives Via “The Immortal Tour” – Coming To Huntington Center

Source: Toledo Blade – By Kirk Baird

MJ Fanatics in Sydney

MJ Fanatics in Sydney

The brilliant pop craftsmanship and unrivaled showmanship of Michael Jackson paired with the big-tent spectacle of Cirque Du Soleil is so obviously meant for each other, the biggest question for Cameron McKinlay is what took the union so long to happen?

“I’m surprised they didn’t do this earlier with Michael, it was such a perfect combination and with Michael loving Cirque Du Soleil so much,” he said. “It is the ideal marriage of artists. It’s a fantastic show.”

And yes, McKinlay is biased. He’s one of the dozens of colorful and electric stage performers — a mixture of classically trained dancers with self-taught b-boys (hip hop, breakdance) — in Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, the massive and massively successful Cirque Du Soleil touring production that’s playing Toledo for two shows, 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at Huntington Center. Tickets, priced from $45 to $150, are available at all TicketMaster outlets, ticketmaster.com, the Huntington Center box office, and charge by phone at 800-745-3000.

McKinlay appears as one of five “fanatics” — excitable representations of overzealous Michael Jackson fans who dress like and emulate their idol — who interact with the audience and get the people to their feet. The 28-year-old classically trained dancer also performs in some of the show’s bigger choreographed routines, which affords him the opportunity to work with performers of different backgrounds, namely the b-boys.

The combination of the schooled and street styles in a single production, he said, “created a unique look in the show, which is what Michael would have wanted.”

As The Immortal World Tour’s artistic director, Michael Smith, said, Jackson, for all his grace and style as a performer, wasn’t a trained dancer but “an incredibly naturally gifted dancer” who imported the street style to the masses.

“He affected the entire industry in the ’80s and early ’90s [by] bringing street dance into a much more commercially accessible field,” Smith said.

“So if we’re going to do an homage to him and his work, applying the same rules is bringing in street dancers.”

More than a dance spectacular along with Cirque Du Soleil’s hallmarks of high-wire acrobatics and feats of strength and skill, The Immortal World Tour was conceived as a true concert experience; more than 35 Jackson songs are performed over two sets by a band — including several musicians who performed with Jackson — and backing vocalists as live accompaniments to the singer’s isolated vocal tracks from studio recordings.

“It’s much more like you’re going to a concert than you’re going to a typical Cirque Du Soleil show, where you sit passively and see these incredible images that we create acrobatically,” Smith said. “This is much more about the music, the dance, the energy that [Jackson] created when he performed.

“Cirque Du Soleil, we have our core audience. This was trying to access a different kind of audience. … His appeal goes across all generations; it’s everything, which I love.”

Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009, stunned the world. More than two years later, in October, 2011, The Immortal World Tour, written and directed by leading choreographer Jamie King, launched in Montreal, before touring North America and Europe. The Immortal World Tour consists of 30 trucks, with the performers, artists, management, and creative team loaded on four buses, typically playing two cities a week with an average of two to three shows at each stop.

As proof of the performer’s lasting appeal, the Cirque Du Soleil show has gone on to become the ninth highest-grossing tour of all time, according to Billboard.

And last year, King created a second Jackson-themed Cirque production, Michael Jackson ONE, at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

But that’s where the similarities end, Smith said.

“It was always established that the touring show was about Michael’s music whereas the resident show in Vegas is much more about a typical Cirque Du Soleil show, a Cirque Du Soleil show with a soundtrack of Michael Jackson’s music. This is much more a tribute to the man and his music.”


Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Peach-Weekender/2014/04/24/With-Cirque-Du-Soleil-Michael-Jackson-lives-on-Copy.html#5VSUfXdjmUusEk3F.99

 

 

Fundraiser For Thrill The World NYC Annual Dance Parade

Source: Thrill The World NYC

The Dance Parade is going to cost almost $4000.00! To help aid with costs we have initiated our very own fundraiser below. There will be around 10 classes held and we are only asking $20.00 per dancer to join us. But we can use all the help we can get! If you are interested in helping fund our campaign CLICK HERE

AWESOME NEWS! We are happy to announce that DJ KASPER is back as our official DJ for our group in the dance parade! He will be mixing MJ music while we dance down Broadway, giving shout outs about our group, and representing with us! For more info visit his website: http://djkasper.com

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Rehearsal Schedule: (Recommended to attend each one to ensure your spot in the parade!)

April 23, Wednesday 8 PM to 9:30 PM

Studio 1205 – Pearl Studio -500 Eighth Avenue – 12 Floor

 

April 24, Thursday 8 PM to 9:30 PM  

Studio 3A – 440 Studios, 440 Lafayette Street 3rd Floor

 

April 26, Saturday 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM

Studio 1205 – Pearl Studio -500 Eighth Avenue – 12 Floor

 

April 30, Wednesday 8 PM to 9:30 PM 

Studio 1210 – Pearl Studio -500 Eighth Avenue – 12 Floor

 

May 01, Thursday 8 PM to 9:30 PM

Studio 3A – 440 Studios- 440 Lafayette Street 3rd Floor

 

May 03, Saturday 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Studio 1210 – Pearl Studio -500 Eighth Avenue – 12 Floor

 

May 07, Wednesday 8 PM to 9:30 PM

Studio 1205 – Pearl Studio -500 Eighth Avenue – 12 Floor

 

May 08, Thursday 8 PM to 9:30 PM

Studio 3A – 440 Studios- 440 Lafayette Street 3rd Floor

 

May 10, Saturday 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Studio 1205 – Pearl Studio -500 Eighth Avenue – 12 Floor

 

May 14, Wednesday 8 PM to 9:30 PM

Studio 1205 – Pearl Studio -500 Eighth Avenue – 12 Floor

 

May 15, Thursday 8 PM to 9:30 PM

Studio 3A – 440 Studios- 440 Lafayette Street 3rd Floor

2013 Parade/Marriage Proposal

 

2012 Parade and Rehearsal Videos

May 8 Parade Fundraiser At Rockbar NYC

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Click here for more details: http://thrilltheworldnyc.com/event-registration/?ee=33

 

Cirque du Soleil Brings Michael Jackson To The KFC Yum Center

Source: Louisville.com – By Michaelle Rynbrandt

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Best known for their jaw-dropping acrobatics, budget-blowing productions, original music and truly death-defying stunts (all of which are done without safety nets or harnesses), Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based company, has broadened their creative canvas to include the music and history of one of the most influential artists of all time.

Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour puts a spotlight on the King of Pop in the way only they can.

While the production maintains the creativity and acrobatics one has come to expect from Cirque du Soleil, the format of this production is unique; its rock concert style combines the music of Michael Jackson with 49 artists and musicians, including former members of Jackson’s band.

THE IMMORTAL World Tour features over 35 of Michael Jackson’s songs in a variety of mash-ups, remixes and new arrangements.  “In some of his songs,” Musical Designer Kevin Antunes says, “Michael would let the grooves breathe and he would tuck his voice underneath the music. In this show, the world is going to hear Michael’s voice like they’ve never heard it before.”

While Jackson’s music is the driving force behind the production, the technical aspects present quite a spectacle as well. With over 5,300 square feet, the total surface area of projection space is larger than a basketball court.

Cirque is a company known for their innovative design concepts, and the costuming for this production is no exception.  “In particular, we explored techniques such as 3D printing and LED, pushing the limits just as Michael would,” says Costume Designer Zaldy Goco. Those costume pieces number over 1,200, and require three 45-foot trucks to transport.

Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour performs at the KFC Yum! Center this Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26 at 8pm.

Tickets range in price from $50-$150 and are still available at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Living Social is running a special for discount tickets.

 

Read more: http://www.louisville.com/content/cirque-du-soleil-brings-michael-jackson-kfc-yum-center

 

Interview With Navi

Source: cairoscene.com

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We caught up with Navi to talk being chosen by MJ, seeing Egypt and gives us the exclusive scoop on the real Michael Jackson’s upcoming post-humous album, Xscape.

Where are you from/where did you grow up?
I was born in the Caribbean but grew up in London. I have been in the UK for the past 34 years now.

How did you get into Michael Jackson impersonation?
When I arrived in the UK in 1979 , MJ dominated the 80s and 90s and therefore I wanted to be like him. He was like a real like super-hero and all his music and videos were everywhere. I remember standing outside the hotel in London as a kid looking up at the hotel window with hundreds of other MJ fans on the street. A few years later, I was in the hotel with him looking down at the MJ fans, was surreal to have my life turned around like that.

I grew up learning to dance in my parent’s kitchen and I had my first break opening for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame group The Drifters at the age of 15. I went on from opportunity to opportunity evening opening the Virgin Megastores across 9 European cities.

Then working for MJ in promotion of albums and concerts and also as a decoy (being used as a double so he could leave a certain place easier).

Have you ever met Michael Jackson in real life, if so what was the meeting like?
I have met Michael several times, evening being chosen to perform at his birthday parties in London, New York and Los Angeles. I also had the honour of being invited to Neverland which was amazing.

Michael was always humble and supportive, always the kind of person you never expected to be so kind. He loved people and admired everyone by just watching and trying to learn. He said to me once “you’re an amazing dancer, do you practice everyday?”… to hear MJ ask you that was unbelievable.

What was your favourite MJ album?
It’s difficult to choose but I guess Bad. It’s the album around the time I was in my teens and filled with so many classic Pop hits.

There are a lot of MJ impersonators out there. What makes you number one?

I have been branded number one for several years now, so I suppose it’s being ‘Chosen By Michael’ and working for him. Even last week, I was invited to Los Angeles to hear the brand new MJ Album Xscape then meet with the Epic Record executives. The album I have to say is truly amazing and a tribute to the legendary dance beats Michael always likes to have associated with his catchy tunes.

I am also the only impersonator to have been invited to Neverland, and guess having performed in over 300 international shows on 58 different countries covers most of the world. But to be honest, I believe we all are top impersonators – we all fly the flag for MJ in our own way and none is more important than the other.

Have you been to or performed in Egypt before?
Egypt is one of my favourite places in the world. The history and culture is amazing. This year alone I have been to Thailand, Malaysia, Los Angeles twice and now to Egypt. So I see many amazing places, but I’m not sure many people can say they would rather visit another country than Egypt.

I have been here twice before: once for a wedding and once for a small private show. This time I am looking forward to performing at this event at Club 88. I have always heard of the Red Sea region and now I get a chance to finally see it. I wish I could have stayed a few more days, but also hope this is the first of many trips back to this beautiful place.

Michael Jackson is huge in Egypt, what do you have planned for the crowd?
I plan to celebrate the music and legacy of MJ with the Egyptians. I know they love music and dance and I also know I could learn quite a lot from them, so I look forward to dropping some of the classic MJ hits we all know.

For more information on the ‘Moonwalker Party’ click here. Check out Navi on Facebook here.

 

Read more here: http://www.cairoscene.com/ViewArticle.aspx?AId=2895

Locals Bring Back King of Pop From Behind Scenes

Source: This Week News

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A Cirque du Soleil tour is a massive undertaking, and its partnership with the estate of Michael Jackson on Michael Jackson: The Immortal is no exception. It takes a small city of people to put on a show, many of those people doing their work before the show even begins or behind the scenes.

Yet, whenever people find out that Ricky Morant and Brittany Kiefer aren’t performers, their interest begins to wane.

“They usually ask me if I can get them tickets,” Morant said, only half-joking.

Morant, a Whitehall-Yearling High School and Ohio State University graduate, works in the training and medical department for the tour. Kiefer, also an OSU alum, is an acrobatic rigger on the tour. Both said their work gets plenty of appreciation and offers them plenty of professional satisfaction.

“We make a lot happen in a short amount of time,” Kiefer said of her team, whose job begins when a show loads into a facility, continues through the entire set-up, works the riggings during the shows and into tear-down.

“I manage the grid. My team is responsible for flying the performers and the general safety of all the acrobats. On a production level, we move the show, building the rigging, getting everything hung.”

The dedication to safety requires “a very high attention to detail,” she said.

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As a medical trainer (his title is “physio”), Morant also is tasked with performer safety. He runs classes and workout sessions designed to maximize fitness and minimize the risk of injury, treating both the physical and psychological effects on injuries when they do happen.

“You work so many hours every day, then you can take a deep breath and take in the show, knowing you had a small or sometimes not-so-small part in putting it on,” he said.

Morant studies athletic training at OSU, and his work with the football, track and field, swimming, wrestling and, most importantly, men’s gymnastics teams serves him well. Additionally, he minored in dance and worked for a time with BalletMet Columbus as a trainer – also a benefit in this dance-heavy Cirque show.

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Kiefer got her start working with arena shows as a student production coordinator at the Schottenstein Center, where she also worked after graduation. From there, she connected with the Walking With Dinosaurs tour and more recently worked on the set crew for Shakira before joining Cirque.

“It’s great to come back to Columbus and it’s always great to play the Schott. It’s where I came from, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do what I do now without those experiences and those people,” Kiefer said.

Morant, whose family still lives in central Ohio, takes pride in bringing his work “home” as well.

“My parents have never seen a show that I’ve worked, so I’m hoping maybe now they’ll understand why I don’t call home every night,” he joked.

 

Read more: http://www.thisweeknews.com/content/stories/2014/04/17/Locals-bring-back-King-of-Pop-from-behind-scenes.html

Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour Stops in Richmond (Video)

Source: wric.com

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) - Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour is described as Cirque du Soleil meets rock concert, and today 8News got a special behind the scenes look at all the work it takes to put on the show.

Today our photographer was there as crew members unloaded equipment from thirty trucks and started building the set. It takes about ten hours to get everything in place. About 130 people travel with the tour from city to city.

This show has all the acrobatics you see with other Cirque shows, but it has the feel of a Michael Jackson concert. “We invite people to get up out of their seats and dance and sing along and really embrace and be a part of the music,” says publicist Laura Silverman. “He changed the entertainment industry, he changed pop culture and so we’re putting all of that on display.”

Four members of the eleven-piece live band actually played with the King of Pop. The costume designer from his This Is It documentary heads the wardrobe department. Silverman points out LED bulbs built in jackets for the Billie Jean number and says each detail has been planned carefully. Backstage she shows us. “Fedora hats, very Michael Jackson. We also have on this side the gangster coats for smooth criminal.”

Hit songs from Jackson’s solo career are a part of the show, along with some favorites from the Jackson Five days. His choreography is also included.

Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour is at the Richmond Coliseum Tuesday and Wednesday evening. Click here for ticket information.

Click here for video.

Xscape With The King of Pop! New Album Review!

By April Lamrock / MJ-Upbeat.com

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I was lucky enough to be chosen along with a select few fan representatives from around the world to experience the new album, “Xscape” in advance of its release. It would be my first time traveling to represent my family web site of 11 years, MJ-Upbeat.com.

On the morning of the event we all met in the lobby of the hotel. Everyone took a few moments to introduce themselves and then we were off. We loaded up into the van and headed off not knowing where we were going. Even the driver wasn’t talking, as he knew it was a surprise. Everyone was excited and chatting it up as we anxiously anticipated our destination. I remember the driver making a comment about us all knowing each other. When in fact it was our love of MJ that I think made it so easy for all of us to mesh so quickly.  Most of us had only just met that very day.

It wasn’t long before we arrived at Hanson Recording Studios. We were brought into a large room and sat down into a semi-circle.  It was a familiar looking place to us all, (as well it should), because it was the very room where “We are the World” was recorded. As if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, we were then told we would be listening to the new Michael Jackson album ‘Xscape’ and L.A. Reid himself would be the one playing it for us!

It wasn’t long before L.A. entered the room and introduced himself. He went on to talk about his experiences with Michael and how much this project meant to him and everyone else involved. L.A. said he would only work on the songs that Michael had completed from top to bottom. He said that was the way to know for sure that Michael really liked a song, and that he was committed to completing it all the way through.

MJ Quote: “I’m really very self-confident when it comes to my work. When I take on a project, I believe in it 100%. I really put my soul into it. I’d die for it. that’s how I am.”

As L.A. played each song through, It took everything in me to not jump out of my seat and dance! You could tell I wasn’t the only one, as everyone was bobbing their heads to the beat. We were all still seated while we looked up into the reflective glass in front of us and saw members of the estate and Sony teams along with L.A. Reid dancing like no one was watching. It was like the tables were turned and ‘they’ were the fans. Love filled the room, just as Michael’s music always does. It wasn’t long before we were all up on our feet dancing together

One song after the other introduced to us for the first time, in the very place Michael had worked before. I scribbled down little notes about specific things I liked about each track. I put a star and wrote “FAVORITE” beside the songs that I loved. After about the fourth song I noticed that I had been marking EVERY one! It wasn’t long before we had gone through all 8 songs and basically all of them were starred!

I was in heaven. I closed my eyes and took it all in. It gave me goosebumps as it made me feel like Michael was back doing his thing. Back doing what he loved, and sharing it with us once again.

MJ Quote: “And my goal in life is to give to the world, what I was lucky to receive…the ecstasy of divine union through my music and my dance.”

Michael worked tirelessly at his career. He put so much love into his music. He wanted nothing more than to share his art with the world, as this was his goal in life. I am so excited for everyone to hear this new album.

The album was created from raw music by Michael spanning from 1983-2001 (almost a 20 year span), yet it so effortlessly fits together. I know we’ve all heard the leaked versions of some of these tracks but let me tell you, you’ve heard nothing. These leaked versions are only a stage in the productions. What I heard that day in the studio were finished products that I know Michael would stand behind.

The album as a whole is going to bring you back; make you feel, as I did that day, a prescious part of Michael is emerging back to rock us off our seats like only HE knows how to do.

There are so many times where I sit and listen to Michaels music since he passed and think to myself, “we’re never going to see an artist like this again”. His talent and drive for perfection are unmatched. To know now that even five years after his passing he can still live on and spread his legacy for generations to come with new music brings a sense of content to my heart.

This album is highly recomended for the music lovers and Michael fans across the globe! You won’t regret it. Let’s make Xscape #1 across the world!

- April Lamrock / MJ-Upbeat.com

 

Click here to read and see more: http://home.mj-upbeat.com/2014/04/15/xscape-with-the-king-of-pop-new-album-review/

Cirque Du Soleil Captures The Creative Genius of Michael Jackson – Video

Source: WTVR

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RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) – Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour’ is a stunning show full of dance and music that embraces the heart and soul of Michael Jackson’s musical legacy. Publicist Laura Silverman and Giulia Piolanti, one of the featured performers talked about this show that has received rave reviews all over the world.   You have the chance to see this spectacular show Tuesday April 15th and Wednesday, April 16th at 8pm at the Richmond Coliseum. For more information visit http://richmondcoliseum.net/

 

Video interviewhttp://cf.c.ooyala.com/50MDIzbTrFMcAEU8Ob5Ffwpr2PDViS-6/DOcJ-FxaFrRg4gtDEwOnI5OjBrO-sXix

EXCLUSIVE : LMJ Listening To XSCAPE With The MJ Estate In Los Angeles

Source: Legendary Michael Jackson – By Sjoerd Roijenga

On behalf of the Legendary Michael Jackson Fan Club (LMJ), Sjoerd Roijenga (LMJ’s USA Representative and member of the Board) attended a very special and exclusive event. We are happy to share the news with you all!

 Photo : Karen Langford, Sjoerd Roijenga (LMJ), John Branca (MJ Estate)


Photo : Karen Langford, Sjoerd Roijenga (LMJ), John Branca (MJ Estate)

Good morning,

LMJ was one of eleven invited fan clubs from all over the world: Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, United Kingdom, United States and us, from The Netherlands.

We were picked up from the hotel in a van and taken to the Jim Henson recording Studios. There where chairs waiting for us in Studio A, the actual studio where Miuchael recorded ‘We Are The World’ with all the starts in 1985!

Photo : Studio A of Henson Recording Studios

Photo : Studio A of Henson Recording Studios

It was announced that John Branca was going to be there and also L.A. Reid who is the CEO of Epic records and actually created this new CD, XSCAPE. Mr. Reid was actually going to be the one playing the new album for us.

Before the playing of the new album Mr. Reid told us that on this album there are only 8 songs because they ONLY wanted to use songs that where actually finished by Michael Jackson himself.

Both XSCAPE album covers. Silver for single album, gold for album + bonus CD (Jewelcase or Softpack)

The songs that where played for us were:

Love Never Felt So Good 

With this song it was mentioned that the voice, piano and finger snaps from MJ where on the same original track so they had to be put on the cd like this.

Chicago

She Was Loving Me

A Place With No Name

Slave To The Rhythm

Do You Know Where Your Children Are

Blue Gangsta

XScape

In my opinion they are taking us back to what Michael used to do before History especially with the “hihi”, “hoehoe” and “ows”!! I personally like that a lot since that is really what Michael was about for me. The songs give me the feeling we are about to get a Michael Jackson album with older, very original, tracks that sound like Michael’s songs in the ‘Dangerous’ period.

They only picked songs of which Michael made more than one track. In that way it was possible to determine which songs Michael really liked because he worked on them more than once.

They all sound very suitable for this time. Michael’s songs were always very timeless. Many of his old hits are still perfect for airplay today.

The sounds and beats of the songs are very powerful and I think this album will do great!

John Branca also mentioned there will be videos (or as MJ liked to call them ‘Short Films’) with this new album.

We thank the Michael Jackson Estate and Epic Records for inviting us and enable us to share this with our fellow fans!

Read more: http://www.legendarymichaeljackson.nl/news/exclusive-lmj-listening-to-xscape-with-the-mj-estate-in-los-angeles/

Xscape – An Album Listening Like No Other

Source: MJWN – By Matt Blank

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MJWN’s Matt Blank has listened to the ‘Xscape’ album, and there’s a lot of excitement he wants to share with you:

I’ve been fortunate to go to Michael Jackson listening previews in the past. I’ve had the honour of visiting Sony Music HQ in London and sitting eagerly around a table whilst music is blasted.

The experience I had though on Thursday, was not like one of those times. Myself, along with around 10 other fans who represent fantastic Fan Clubs all over the world, were invited to LA in California by the Estate of Michael Jackson and Epic Records. We all attended somewhat blindly, without any knowledge of what we were going for. However, with the new album ‘Xscape’ already announced, it was a fairly safe bet that we were going to get a chance to listen to the album. Excitement was running through all of us as we met that morning, though it reached a new level when our car arrived at the Jim Henson Recording Studios.

This studio used to be known as the A&M Studios and it was where Michael co-wrote ‘We Are The World’ and recorded it with many other high profile artists. There wasn’t a more fitting location to listen to Michael’s voice again than in that room. Little has changed to the studio in nearly 30 years. With the wooden floor and ceiling, it was instantly recognisable from what we’ve seen in the video of the hit charity single of 1985.

As I looked around, reflecting on the history that was made in the room, we sat down in a semi-circle and John Branca, co-executor of Michael’s Estate, greeted us all and explained why we were there. Then L.A. Reid, Chairman of Epic Records and Executive Producer of the ‘Xscape’ album walked in. He was ready to personally play us the eight new tracks on the album. He explained that in line with his style of production work, the eight tracks selected are the best tracks he could have found in the vault of Michael’s archives. He said he disregarded any recordings that didn’t have full vocals, noting that if Michael recorded a whole song (compared to just a chorus for example) then it meant that Michael liked it. And true to form this is something we can see as we look back on Michael’s career. John Branca pointed out that ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” was originally recorded for ‘Off The Wall’ but used three years later on ‘Thriller’. ‘Earth Song’ and ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ was originally recorded for ‘Dangerous’, but eventually used four years later on ‘HIStory’. The songs left over, recorded in full, aren’t finished articles. But nor are they necessarily songs Michael had disregarded and thrown into the trash. Also interestingly, Reid told us later on that he was unaware that six out of the eight tracks had previously been leaked, and that the song list had already been chosen when this information was brought to his attention.

Before hitting play, Reid delighted us with stories from his past; the moment he met Michael, the moment he had an official meeting with Michael, and other stories including touching moments he witnessed between Michael and his children. The stories spanned two decades, as Michael and Reid grew close and desired to work together. Unfortunately this was never meant to be during Michael’s lifetime, nevertheless Reid’s appreciation, love and respect for Michael is evident.

My original intention was to review each song and scribble down notes to report what each track sounded like. However, with every song that passed, my pen was used less and less. As the album continued, we were getting up, starting to dance, move, feel the music and experience Michael in a new way. I stared around the historic ‘We Are The World’ room, with L.A. Reid jumping around to the grooves, John Branca and the rest of the Estate team dancing and Michael’s vocals ringing through my ears, and writing notes on every song was not what I wanted to do. It wasn’t a place to write. It was a place to listen. The music dictated this more than being a conscious decision. I was overwhelmed by the music and soon enough you will find out why when it’s released. It’s not for me to ruin that experience and surprise for you. So instead, let me give you the quickest of overviews:

Tracklisting:

  1. Love Never Felt So Good
  2. Chicago
  3. Lovin’ You
  4. A Place With No Name
  5. Slave To The Rhythm
  6. Do You Know Where Your Children Are
  7. Blue Gangsta
  8. Xscape

Overview:
Each song could be a dance floor filler. They all have very strong beats that rumble through your body. The opening song put an immediate smile on my face and raised the hair on my arms. With powerful vocals delivered by Michael throughout, his passion, his anger and his love is constantly there.

The album was played twice back-to-back. Smiles all around, the excitement was so different to anything I’ve experienced before. Branca would go and talk to different people in the room. He said to me “this will fill dance floors across the world”. And it just might!

The next month will prove to have lots of surprises for the fans and public alike. I’m not going to tell you what they are, but what I will say is that as I walked out of the studio, I was left with the knowledge that Michael’s legacy is in great hands. Michael worked harder than any other artist throughout his career. He would want that legacy continued. Creating the record breaking Cirque Du Soleil tour, releasing a movie, producing a video game among other things such as anniversary albums and DVD releases, is just part of what the Estate have done to help further and retain Michael’s legacy. Bringing together producers to release unheard material; producers that knew Michael or worked with Michael or it was a known fact that Michael admired, is just right. The album feels contemporary in every way and it’s thrilling to hear Michael again. You think you’ve heard some of these songs before…but you haven’t. Not like this!

It is a delicate situation, but the Estate have continued Michael’s legacy with dignity and introduced millions of new people to Michael’s unique talents.

Long may it continue.

Read more: http://www.mjworld.net/news/2014/04/12/xscape-an-album-listening-like-no-other/

Jackson Tribute Show Is A Real Thriller

Source: Fifetoday – By Fiona Dobie

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The music of Michael Jackson has played a part in many people’s lives over the years.

And even now, five years after his death, his music lives on.

One way in which the music continues to be a huge hit with fans of all ages is through the hit musical production ‘Thriller Live’, which comes to Fife on its only Scottish tour dates later this summer.

The production, which has been in London’s West End since 2009, comes to the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline for a three day run from Thursday, June 5 to Saturday, June 7 and is celebration of the music of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5.

Unlike other West End productions, ‘Thriller Live’ is not a rigid book musical with set songs – it’s a constantly evolving music concert celebration.

And when the theatre production comes to the Kingdom, fans of television series ‘The Voice’ will recognise one of the cast members.

Cleo Higgins, Will.I.Am’s contestant in the 2013 series of ‘The Voice’ stars in the show.

Cleo Higgins in Thriller Live

Last week the former lead singer of the 1990s pop group Cleopatra took time out of the production’s tour in Switzerland to speak to The Press ahead of the Dunfermline date.

She said: “I’m really excited about it.

“Scotland’s one of my favourite places in the UK.

“I love it. We have one person from Glasgow in the show and she is looking forward to getting back to people that she can understand.

“I’m really looking forward to it to be honest.

“For the most part of the tour this time we’ve not touched Scotland.

“I’ve genuinely been disappointed by it.

“I think the closest we’ve been is Carlisle so far.

“So we’re excited that this time we’re actually coming to Scotland.”

Before appearing on ‘The Voice’ – where she made it through to the semi final – Cleo had previously been in the pop group with her sisters and signed to Madonna’s label Maverick when she was just 13.

Cleopatra had three Top 10 hits, supported the Spice Girls, had two TV series and even performed concerts at the Vatican.

But now that she’s part of the Thriller Live production it’s about a whole lot more than just the singing.

Cleo continued: “For me originally it was quite daunting and we learned it in different stages and the first part we learnt last.

“It’s a strange and different world for me.”

The show brings to life the distinctive high-energy dancing and pulsating sound of many of pop’s greatest hits.

Video footage and effects are blended with dazzling choreography by award-winning director Gary Lloyd and it’s regularly updated with additional songs and new visuals and choreography.

So how does it feel for Cleo to be performing in a stage production that’s a celebration of Michael Jackson’s music?

Even from the days of Cleopatra with sisters Zainam and Yonah it was apparent the girls were fans of the king of pop. They even had a Top Five hit single in the UK with their cover of the Jackson 5 track ‘I Want You Back’.

“With it being Michael Jackson I jumped at the chance to audition,” said Cleo.

“I remember someone mentioning a Michael Jackson show but didn’t realise it was an ongoing one.

“Michael Jackson is probably my biggest male influence really.

“He taught me how to vibe and really have the passion in my music and my life.

“He taught me and my sisters to perform.

“There’s no one really like him and I couldn’t think about myself or anyone else as being a female Michael Jackson.

“To do the MJ show is incredible.

“His death hurt me so much when we lost him. No one expected that to happen.

“When he died, he took a large part of me with him. It was like losing a brother.

“Now I feel I can give something back to him and his family by doing this show.”

‘Thriller Live’ is celebrating its sixth year in the West End where it has become the longest running production in the Lyric Theatre’s 125 year history.

But the show has been performed across the globe, with more than 2.5 million tickets sold.

The cast are currently on tour in Europe, visiting the likes of Germany and Switzerland, before going on to Italy later this year.

Now that she’s part of a larger cast and crew, how does it feel for Cleo to be back on tour?

“Being on the road, I was used to it from before,” she said, “but it’s the first time I have been away as a mum and it’s been up and down.

“My children are very excited about me being away.

“They are very resilient and know this is my job, but it’s hard.

“It’s not as easy being on tour, it was hard enough in the UK, but now we’re further away and you know it would take a whole day to get back home to them it’s tough.”

Thriller Live comes to the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline from Thursday, June 5 to Saturday, June 7.

 

Read more: http://www.fifetoday.co.uk/what-s-on/leisure-time/jackson-tribute-show-is-a-real-thriller-1-3371944

Dancer Davi Lorenzo Says The Immortal Tour Is More Like A Concert

Source: Richmond.com 

Artistic Director Tara Young and dancers Davi Lorenzo and Leo Moctezuma

Artistic Director Tara Young and dancers Davi Lorenzo and Leo Moctezuma

Heads up, Richmond. There’s a brand new Cirque du Soleil show coming to the Coliseum. And it’s all about Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour takes over the Richmond Coliseum on Tuesday, April 15 and Wednesday, April 16 for a top-to-bottom transformation for the show. Tickets range from $50 to $150.

First off: this is a different kind of Cirque show.

Think more Michael, less acrobatics.

There won’t be as many high-flying acrobatics and physical stunts as other Cirque shows. But there will be more cool dance moves, moonwalks and memorable Michael Jackson songs.

(And there will be some acrobatics, just not as many as some Cirque fans are used to.)

We caught the last Cirque show in Richmond and loved the acrobatics, but not the muzac. So personally, we say, Bring it on, Billie Jean!

Dancer Davi Lorenzo says the show covers all of Michael Jackson’s hits – from Billie Jean and Human Nature to Smooth Criminal and Black and White.

“There is a lot of choreography from Michael Jackson videos,” Lorenzo says,“from Billie Jean and Thriller.” She says they also do the moonwalk, the cobra and “lots of the moves that Michael used to do.”

She says the show is more like a concert than the typical Cirque show.

“People can stand up, dance and move along with the songs. It’s more dance oriented. And it’s to celebrate Michael’s life.”

Her favorite song to perform is “Smooth Criminal.”

“All the girls – we have the dresses and the high heels – we slither around. I prefer my flat sneakers, but I love that choreography. It’s my favorite part of the show.”

A Spanish dancer originally trained in flamenco, Lovato herself has appeared in music videos with Chris Brown, as well as toured with Jennifer Lopez.

But she says she’s enjoying the Cirque show because “it’s a different type of performance. Here, we are the artists out in front. [Instead of performing back-up], it’s good to be viewed as an artist. There are 22 dancers in the show. And we just want to get people up and to dance. To treat it like a party.”

Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour

Tuesday, April 15 & Wednesday, April 16

Richmond Coliseum

Tickets range from $50 to $150.

 

Read more: http://www.richmond.com/arts-entertainment/article_b36379f6-bb64-11e3-8328-001a4bcf6878.html

Cirque du Soleil Honors Michael Jackson’s Work: Interview With Dance Master Laurie Sposit

Source: News & Record – By Leah Hughes

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The woman with the notepad knows every move of this show. She predicts when that dancer will go left and the other will break right. That jump was supposed to be higher. That person in the back was late. She counts every beat.

Laurie Sposit joined “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” in July 2011 as the dance master. Her job involves overseeing the dancers and preserving the show’s original choreography.

She and her dancers and the entire 49-member cast that also includes acrobats and musicians will perform at Greensboro Coliseum on Friday and Saturday in the Cirque du Soleil production that honors the life work of Michael Jackson.

Sposit grew up listening to Jackson, watching his videos and mimicking his moves.

“I was that kid that had all the posters plastered on the wall,” she said.

For Sposit and fans around the world who grew up idolizing Jackson, “The Immortal” is for them. The show includes more than 35 of Jackson’s songs. It balances his original work and recordings with new interpretations.

Musical director Greg Phillinganes worked with Jackson for more than 25 years. The Cirque du Soleil flair enhances each song. During the “Wanna Be Starting Something” scene, the gates of Neverland open to reveal “The Immortal” band, which includes Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett, who played drums for Jackson for 30 years. The scene then brings in dancers and acrobats in tribal costumes.

“The costumes are great,” Sposit says. “A lot of them are replicating what he had in his videos and his style. … And the other side is the genius of the Cirque du Soleil wardrobe department.”

“Beat It” highlights a couple of Jackson’s famous accessories. A dancer inside a 6-foot-tall glove forms hand positions with his entire body. And a pair of 8-foot-long shoes made of orthopedic foam with a vinyl skin represent Jackson’s penny loafers.

Sposit remembers wanting a red, leather jacket when she was younger to match the one in the “Thriller” video. (Her father said no.) The music and choreography of Jackson and his sister Janet influenced her decision to become a dancer. She toured with Janet Jackson on the “All for You” tour in the early 2000s.

“Having worked with his sister, that was awesome,” Sposit said. “I never got to meet him, but working on this is a way to be part of his legacy.”

The show carries forward Jackson’s overarching themes — love, peace and unity — found throughout his work.

“I think the main kind of message of the show is Michael’s love for life and humanity,” Sposit said.

Sometimes sitting and watching the show is difficult for her. Sposit danced professionally for more than 20 years. But chronic back pain forced her to take a different role. She works with a dance captain who acts out the examples she can no longer manage.

But she likes this side, too. She occasionally tries to watch without taking notes, but she finds it hard to turn off that make-it-better mind-set.

“I never get sick of it,” she said. “I can go out there every day and go, ‘Oh wow, what a great show we have.’”

 

Read more: http://m.news-record.com/go_triad/article_c4eecd12-c021-11e3-a8e6-001a4bcf6878.html?mode=jqm

Cirque du Soleil Celebrates Michael Jackson With Superb Flair

Source: Charlotte Observer – By Lawerence Toppman

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Michael Jackson died five years ago this June. His passing removed all the distractions surrounding his work and left a song catalog that holds four decades of prime material.

Those songs form the core of “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,” which started a two-night run at Time Warner Cable Arena Tuesday. Like all Cirque du Soleil shows, it dazzles and confounds the eyes for more than two hours. But the organs that come away most delighted are the ears.

They get the unadulterated joy of preteen Michael singing “I’ll Be There” to the gentle solo piano of Charlie Wilson, the playful humor of young adult MJ bouncing through “Wanna Be Starting Something,” the primal rage of the mature Jackson on “They Don’t Care About Us”. (That number recreates a piece designed for the “This Is It” tour, with dancers stomping in unison as robots. Their LED breastplates reveal dollar signs, then question marks, then peace symbols and finally red, glowing hearts.)

Sometimes the show approaches a straight-up rock concert, especially near the end. (Except for Jackson’s lead vocals, a tight live band supplies the music.) Sometimes aerialists take flight, acrobats dangle from silks or poles, gymnasts contort or hurl themselves across the stage. Often a mime (agile, emotive Mansour Abdessadok) responds to Jackson’s vocals or seems to act out the words. And always, whether we hear Jackson or see him on huge screens behind the stage, MJ’s charisma shines through.

A pairing of Cirque and Jackson seems natural for three reasons. First, they share a sense of playfulness: Pole dancer Anna Melnikova writhes high in the air, both menaced and worshipped by six guys below in suits, during the half-serious “Dangerous.”

Second, his songs often express a sense of wonder, an open-eyed amazement at the world, and that’s a Cirque hallmark. Aerialists in sparkling garb float through the air during “Human Nature,” like beings reduced to ethereal spirits.

Third, Cirque shows have a special inclusiveness: People of different builds, ages, races and nations take part. In this case, a one-legged dancer rocks the house on his arm braces. Jackson’s songs also emphasize our universality, especially universal needs for respect, trust and affection (celebrated here in the climactic, pull-out-the-stops “Black or White”).

We usually associate Cirque with pure pleasure, but Jackson’s social consciousness gets a workout in the second half, whether in the ominous “Earth Song” (with the planet burning) or “Scream.” I can’t give a better description of the latter than the press notes: “Acrobats execute a perfectly synchronized tumbling act, flinging themselves in the air and bellyflopping onto the stage, as Ninja-style aerial dancers suspended above interact with Japanimation-inspired sequences projected on the screens. The scene evokes the destruction of the world.”

That may sound a bit zany, but it’s compelling when you see and hear it. And there’s nothing silly about the children with near-fatal malnutrition or the murdered civil rights leaders projected on the screen during “They Don’t Care About Us.” That class-conscious number couldn’t be more timely.

Those screens serve more of a purpose here than in most arena shows, even most Cirque shows. They provide a visual counterpoint or complement to what we see onstage, showing related images, special visual effects or snatches of old Jackson videos.

At one point, dancers in suits that turn them into neon-lit silhouettes move into a synchronized number. They’re stepping out in fascinating style when the glittering Jackson appears on the big screen, whirling and moonwalking. Even they stop dancing for a moment and seem to watch. The choreographer knew that, when Jackson’s at his most compelling, our eyes go straight to him.

‘Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour’

WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday.

WHERE: Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St.

TICKETS: $58.15-$172.20.

DETAILS: 800-745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com.

 

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/04/08/4827798/cirque-celebrates-mj-with-superb.html##storylink=cpy

EMU’s Student Tribute To The King Of Pop

Source: The Eastern Echo – By Sarah Williams

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Bader Yousef

Audience members were dazzled with songs, dances and costumes honoring the king of pop in the Michael Jackson tribute show “This Is It” held at Eastern Michigan University’s Student Center Auditorium on April 2.

Bader Yousef, founder and president of EagleFIT and mastermind behind “This Is It,” was often seen as Michael Jackson during the show. He donned a sequined glove and black fedora for his performances, paying tribute to the king of pop’s signature style.

Mary Larkin, program coordinator for the Lesbian Bisexual Gay and Transgender Resource Center on campus, was the host for the evening. Larkin provided commentary on the performances as well as laughs. She was also throwing out vintage Michael Jackson trading cards into the audience in between performances.

Larkin expressed how badly she wanted to be part of the show as a dancer, and surprised the entire audience by joining in during “Beat It.” Yousef had promised surprises for the show, and this unexpected twist was a hit with the audience.

Many dancers were involved in the show including some groups here at Eastern. Overdosed on Dance was seen dancing during songs such as “Dirty Diana” and “P.Y.T.” The EMU Swing Society, a swing dance group, performed during “Man in the Mirror.”

Tristin Taylor, who danced during “Dirty Diana,” enjoyed being a part of the event.
“This was a real fun experience,” he said. “It brought people with different perspectives together, and I thank EMU for the opportunity.”

Performers in the show sang almost all of the songs heard during “This Is It.” This allowed each singer to give their personal and unique renditions of classic Michael Jackson songs, and really displayed the amount of talent and hard work that was put in to the show.

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Some of the songs performed were “Bad,” sung by Jack B and Ryan, “The Way You Make Me Feel,” performed by Jaklyia Johnson and Adel Nassar, and an acoustic version “Earth Song” sung by Emily S.

Not every performer in “This Is It” was from EMU. Kamryn Johnson, a 10 year old with dreams of becoming a singer, sang popular Jackson 5 songs, including “ABC” and “I Want You Back.” Rare Paragon Gem, a dance group from Washtenaw Community College, also took part in performances on songs such as “Will You Be There” and “Gone Too Soon,” which were sung by the director of Rare Paragon Gem, Gayle Martin.

Mahdi Alkadib was both backstage and an audience member at the show. He frequently helps backstage at EMU productions, most recently at “Colors in Harmony.”

Alkadib said from his experience, “being backstage can be stressful and tense.”

He made sure to be backstage for the first showing in case his help was needed, and decided to stay as an audience member for the second show and found it to be “fun and exciting.”

Although the show had two time slots to allow for more audience members, both shows were full and many people were unable to get a seat.

Alkadib said he expected both shows to be filled because of that fact that the show was well advertised and free.

As each audience member entered the auditorium they were handed a green wristband, to ensure they had a seat, and an “After Show Quick Survey.” The short survey asked about quality of the show, and whether or not people would want to see a “This Is It” show next year.

Yousef said that every person who turned in a survey would like to see the show again next year. Although he is graduating soon and wouldn’t be managing the event like this year, he did have some thoughts on the possibility of continuing the show. “More days and times offered” would be a top priority after the success this year’s show had.

 

Read more: http://www.easternecho.com/article/2014/04/students-tribute-king-of-pop

Administrator’s Note: Bader Yousef has sent me some lovely pictures from this event, which I will share with you later in a follow up post. 

Podcast: Brad Sundberg On Michael Jackson – Episode 13 / Talk Talk Talk With Darren Hayes

Source:Darren Hayes

brad sundberg michael jackson

Brad Sundberg joined Michael Jackson’s recording team during the production of Captain EO in 1985, and remained with Michael as one of his audio engineers and Technical Director for nearly 18 years.  Brad was actively involved in the studio production of four Michael Jackson albums: BADDangerousHIStory, and Blood On The Dance Floor. He also worked on remixes and edits for countless singles, short films, and tour preparations associated with these projects.

His seminars ‘In The Studio With Michael Jackson’ are considered by fans to be the most respectful and enlightening celebration of Michael’s music legacy. To find out more visit http://www.inthestudiowithmj.com  www.facebook.com/inthestudiowithmj or on twitter @instudiowithmj

In our conversation Brad shares rare stories about the King of Pop and reveals a human and heartfelt glimpse into the extraordinary creative world of Michael Jackson.  I take live callers who share their own unique connection to the King of Pop and we talk about his influence on pop culture and as a person of inspiration.

Read more: http://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/2768725

Quite a Thriller Night

Source: Triangle Business Journal – By Dathan Kazsuk

mj-immortal-3_600xx1067-1600-0-0

I like to consider myself a music connoiseur, so I made sure to catch Cirque du Soleil’s tribute to the King of Pop in “Michael Jackson The Immortal” at PNC Arena on April 1.

The performers entertained the crowd with two hours of MJ’s classics including “Human Nature,” “Thriller,” “Beat It” and a mega-mix that got the entire audience on their feet dancing.

I was especially impressed with Jean “Bboy Hourth” Sok, one of the troupe’s performers, who was strutting his stuff with only one leg.

While talking to the shows publicist, Laura Silverman, during the setup of the stage on April 1, I learned some interesting facts about the performance:

10 – That’s how many hours it takes the crew to unload and assemble the stage for “Michael Jackson The Immortal” before each performance.

100 – The number of extras hired to help the crew set up the stage for the live performance.

130 – The number of people that tour with “Michael Jackson The Immortal.” That includes 38 performers, 11 musicians and 52 crew members.

250 – The number of costumes used in Cirque du Soleil’s performance of “Michael Jackson The Immortal.“

30 – The number of trucks it takes to transport all the set designs, costumes and equipment.

35 – The number of Michael Jackson songs performed in the two-hour set. This includes several mashups and one mega-mix.

 

Read more: http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/blog/2014/04/quite-a-thriller-night.html?s=image_gallery

Michael Jackson Laser Show

Source: CSC Logo

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Love Michael Jackson? “Don’t stop till you get enough”…with our newest, family-friendly Michael Jackson laser show. Filled with vibrant laser colors and the late singer’s greatest hits, the King of Pop comes alive once more with “ABC,” “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” and more. Come check it out for just $8 ($2 for members!), or pair it with another laser show for a Double Feature Laser price of $13. It’s “easy as 1, 2, 3!”

Cost: $2 members | $8 non-members

Dates and times for this event


< Mar. 2014 May. 2014 >

Apr 04, 2014 – Apr 05, 2014 5:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Apr 11, 2014 – Apr 12, 2014 5:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Apr 18, 2014 – Apr 19, 2014 5:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Apr 25, 2014 – Apr 26, 2014 5:00 pm – 5:45 pm

Read more: http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/calendar/event-details/?eventID=1889&year=2014&month=4&date=5

Jonathan Moffett: Drummer for the King of Pop

Source: Charlotte Observer – By Courtney Devores

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Jonathan Moffett’s credits read like the dream resume of any musical child of the ’70s and ’80s. In his 35-year career, the New Orleans drummer has backed The Jacksons (including Michael, Janet and Jermaine’s solo tours), George Michael, Elton John and Madonna on her “Virgin,” “Who’s That Girl,” and “Blonde Ambition” tours. “Nobody tops Michael,” Moffett said this week by phone from Raleigh, where “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” had its opening night. “Production-wise and in terms of staging, props and magnitude, Michael always exceeded expectations.” Moffett – along with several other musicians who were gearing up to tour with Jackson’s “This Is It” tour before his 2009 death – is part of the Cirque du Soliel tribute to the King of Pop, which returns to Time Warner Cable Arena Tuesday and Wednesday. The show features Cirque-style acrobatics and Jackson-style dancing to a soundtrack that includes some of Jackson’s biggest hits as well as lesser-known selections. Moffett began working with the Jacksons in 1979, when he moved to L.A. at the behest of Jermaine. He quickly got noticed by other artists, who would see him on stage behind the elaborate sculptural drum rigs he designed and request him for their tours. 101780_0 Despite his impressive resume, “Immortal” has been a new experience for Moffett. “With Elton John and Madonna we had dancers, but we didn’t have acrobats and contortionists,” Moffett said. “It’s interesting to see those aspects. No one was doing amazing feats.” “There’s so much happening on stage you have to see the show three or four times before you’d see everything,” he added. Some might think revisiting Jackson’s legacy would be difficult for Moffett, considering he worked with the pop star for 30 years. But the drummer didn’t hesitate to accept the position with Cirque. “Michael is so much in my heart and spirit,” he said. “I was with him the night before he passed almost until 1 in the morning. He was a major part of my life. I feel like he’s here with me … (or) like he could come along any minute. … “But on a professional level, I know he’d want me to do the same thing I was doing before playing with him.”   ‘Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour’  WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.  WHERE: Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St.  TICKETS: $58.15-$172.20.  DETAILS: 800-745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com

 

Cirque Show Keeps Michael Jackson’s Music ‘Immortal’

Source: The Times News – Charity Apple

Cameron McKinlay, pictured, right

Cameron McKinlay, pictured, right

As the youngest of five kids, all dancers, Cameron McKinlay said it wasn’t unusual at all to hear either Michael Jackson or The Beatles being played in their home in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

So, it’s even more meaningful that McKinlay not only got to perform in Cirque du Soleil’s “Beatles’ Love” show in Las Vegas, but he is now a dancer/“Fanatic” in Cirque’s “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour.”

“I love both types of music so it’s been a real honor for me,” McKinlay said in a recent interview from Trenton, N.J., where the show was being performed last Friday.

McKinlay left Canada at the age of 18 and performed in Las Vegas for four years before embarking on the world tour of “Immortal,” a tour he’s been a part of for three years.

095360e0e5e3f6942c65b0c048849bc7As a teenager, he planned on pursuing the ballet route like his siblings.

“I ran away and joined the circus,” he said with a laugh.

Shows are set for 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte and 8 p.m. April 11-12 at the Greensboro Coliseum.

He plays a “fanatic,” which he described as “Michael Jackson fans.”

With the show, he gets “the unique opportunity to go out and interact with the crowd. Michael’s music is so timeless; it appeals to audiences 5 to 105. Every age group will not only enjoy it, but they should come and see it.”

To hear what each song meant to Michael Jackson has been an amazing experience, McKinlay said.

For Michael Jackson fans, this show also offers the opportunity to hear some of his lesser-known songs such as “Ben” and “Childhood.”

“What a rewarding experience to be able to travel the world and perform the music (Beatles and Michael Jackson) that I love,” he added.

Tickets are $45 to $165 and are available at all Ticketmaster outlets, online at ticketmaster.com, by phone at (800) 745-3000 or at the Greensboro Coliseum box office.

 

Read more: http://www.thetimesnews.com/lifestyles/lifestyles-home/cirque-show-keeps-michael-jackson-s-music-immortal-1.299920

 

Michael Jackson Yoga and Dance Class Tomorrow at Maha Yoga

Source: Philly Mag – By Emily Leamon

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Always wish you knew some killer Michael Jackson moves? Tomorrow at Maha Yoga, instructor Teagan Schweitzer will teach a yoga-and-dance mashup class that’ll intersperse MJ’s choreography with some fun yoga poses. Neat, right?

The workshop is taking place Saturday afternoon from 1:15 to 2:45 at Maha Yoga and Healing Arts at 17th and Sansom in Center City. You’ll start with a yoga warm-up to get the body moving, then you’ll learn classic MJ choreography to his song “Billie Jean,” with some yoga poses thrown in the mix.

No dance experience required; sparkly white gloves encouraged. The class is $15 and you can sign up here. (Click the Workshops tab.)

Read more: http://www.phillymag.com/be-well-philly/2014/03/28/tomorrow-michael-jackson-themed-yoga-dance-class-maha-yoga/

Kevin Antunes Tells How A Brief Meeting With The King Of Pop Turned Into A Lasting Tribute

Source: News Observer – By Corbie Hill

Daniel Lamarre and Kevin Antunes, musical creator of The Immortal Tour

Daniel Lamarre, Chef Operating Officer for Cirque du Soliel and Kevin Antunes, musical creator of The Immortal Tour

 

A few weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, at the “United We Stand: What More Can I Give” concert at DC’s RFK Stadium, Kevin Antunes met Michael Jackson. It was a fleeting encounter at what would turn out to be the King of Pop’s last public concert, but the keyboardist and producer remembers it vividly. He was in his dressing room which, for some reason, had no door, when security cleared the hallway.

“They were saying a celebrity was coming through and they wanted all the people to clear the room, to clear the walkway,” Antunes said. He was told to move, but replied that he was technically still in his dressing room. So he stood in the doorway. “And here he comes, Michael Jackson, walking all by himself,” Antunes recalls, still amazed some 12 years later. “And he turns and looks at me and goes, ‘Hello. I’m Michael.’ 

Antunes, too, has a long history in pop music: he was immersed in it from a young age, as his dad plays saxophone with John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band. By 18 he and his keyboards hit the road with New Kids on the Block on their “Hangin’ Tough” world tour. He has played three Super Bowl halftimes, worked as musical director for Justin Timberlake and Rihanna, and recently been given privileged access to Michael Jackson’s master recordings – all of them.

It’s from this vault that the musical designer constructed Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson: The Immortal,” which comes to Raleigh’s PNC Arena April 1 and 2. The massive show, featuring acrobats, dancers and a dozen musicians, is built around Jackson’s voice. There’s an arena-style rock band, sure, but the vocals are Jackson’s originals, selected by Antunes.

“Not even his producers that did his records got to hear things the way I did,” he said. “I got to hear his music over his lifetime, while most of the producers were there for two albums, maybe.”

Antunes’ mission was to present Jackson’s voice as clearly as possible – the masters, he says, represent exactly how Jackson sounded in the studio, while vinyl records present more degraded audio – but also to present long-familiar hits in new and unexpected ways.

“It was an honor to be able to sit there and go through ‘ABC’ and find an alternate vocal take that Michael had done,” Antunes said. “There’s parts of the music where I’ll break the music down and I’ll let the people hear Michael just snapping his fingers, clapping his hands.”

It could be daunting, having his hands on the masters of “Thriller,” “Billie Jean” or “Beat It,” and Antunes admits it was challenging to dig through the archives, rearrange decades-old Jackson hits for a Cirque du Soleil production, and communicate honest emotion. Sometimes this required dueling guitars and cellos, but sometimes Antunes chose a light touch.

Near the end of “The Immortal,” there’s a gentle moment: Antunes isolated an 11-year-old Jackson’s vocals from the 1970 Jackson 5 hit “I’ll Be There,” and paired it with piano played by the singer’s onetime music director and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes – and that’s it.

“None of the other music, none of the other background – just acoustic piano,” Antunes said. It’s a fitting touch from a man who, 12 years ago, had an equally personal, fleeting encounter with the King of Pop.


What: Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson: The Immortal”

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday

Where: PNC Arena, 1400 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh

Cost: $50-$165

Info: thepncarena.com

 

 

Interview With MJ Percussionist Bashiri Johnson

Source: The Charlotte Post – By Michaela Duckett

Musical crew of This is It. Bashiri Johnson, is sitting on the right side, front

Musical crew of This is It. Bashiri Johnson, is sitting on the right side, front.

 

It’s been almost five years since the death of Michael Jackson. Yet, his legacy continues to live on.

As one of the greatest performers and musicians of all time, Jackson’s influence on pop culture is undeniable. He was a revolutionary who changed the game in so many ways from music to dance, fashion and videography. He’s had an impact in some way or another on every artist that has came after him.

Jackson’s music and inspirational lyrics, underscoring his global message of love, peace and unity, are being brought to life in Cirque du Soleil’s production of “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour.”

The tour stops in Charlotte April 8-9 at Time Warner Cable Arena. Tickets range from $45 to $150 each and are available through Ticketmaster.

The show, which is presented in a rock concert format combined with Cirque du Soleil’s signature acrobatic style, features 49 international dancers, musicians and acrobats.

The band includes artists who previously worked side by side with Jackson. Among them is percussionist Bashiri Johnson, whose resume reads like the Who’s Who of the music industry. Johnson has worked with everyone from Jay-Z to Celine Dion, Eric Clapton, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige and Miles Davis.

In the following Q&A, Johnson discusses what he learned working with the King of Pop and which contemporary artists he believes are legends in the making. Some questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: What was it like to work with Michael Jackson?

A: It was a quite incredible and very surreal. It’s sort of like being in orbit, in his orbit, and you’re orbiting around the Earth and everyone is watching what you do up in space. Then after the show is over or the rehearsal is done, you return back to Earth. But for a short time, you get to enjoy being in orbit with him.

Q: Did the opportunity to work with Jackson change you as a musician? What did you take away from the experience?

A: It didn’t change me as a musician, but it helped me to realize that there is a bar that is set even higher than what I can envision because his bar is kind of set in outer space. He had a very, very high standard of excellence, and in order to be on stage with him you have to meet that level of excellence.

One thing I learned is to never think that you have reached the pinnacle musically or in life. There’s always another level above and beyond what you think is the ultimate.

Q: You worked with Jackson on the “This is It” tour before his death. What was his energy like at the time?

A: His energy was upbeat. He was totally involved in all aspects of the production. He would check in on the dancers. He would check on the lighting. He would check in on the sound, and then he would spend the rest of the evening with us in the band. He was highly present, and he seemed like he was in great shape and excited to go out and do the 50 shows in London just like we all were.

Q: Even at his age, Jackson was an incredible performer. What was it like to see him in action?

A: It’s interesting because the movie “This is It” is really a documentary portrayal of what we went through during rehearsals. So it’s amazing to see how incredible the movie is with all of this excitement and energy and we’re only doing rehearsals. We didn’t even have a live audience.

Michael Jackson, I liken him to Bruce Lee. He’s sort of like this real slender type of athlete that is able to perform at the highest level, and that’s what he was like even during rehearsals… There were a few moments when he actually dances full out and sings full out, and it really got a lot of us excited when we witnessed it.

Q: How does it feel to be a part of the Cirque du Soleil “Michael Jackson The Immortal” tour and to pay tribute to the King of Pop?

A: It’s a great honor to be here. This is a magnificent show. It’s doing great all over the world. It’s the number 2 grossing show on Billboard Top 25 World Tours. The audience has been really enjoying every aspect of the show. We have great film clips. We have great dancers and an amazing band.

It is a show not to be missed. I don’t know how long the tour will continue, but while it’s up and running, I think everyone should run and see it. It’s a great interactive and participatory show celebrating Michael Jackson.

Q: Michael Jackson is one of several artists that you’ve worked with that are no longer living, including Whitney Houston, Ray Charles and Luther Vandross. Are there any artists living today that you think will also become legends and that are blazing a trail for artists of the next generation to follow?

A: There are a lot of artists that I think are paving their way towards legendary status. I think Beyoncé is one. I think that Esperanza Spalding is another. I really love what Bruce Springsteen is doing. I love what Bono is doing. I also love Adele. I like how she sounds. I think she’s on the way to greatness. I also like Angélique Kidjo. I love what she’s doing. So there is going to be a new league of greats and legends coming around soon enough.

Q: As a musician, you’ve experienced a lot and met a lot of different people. What is some the best advice you’ve ever received?

One of the best pieces of advice is to just be you. Be the best you, you can be. Don’t compete with anyone else. Don’t compete with anything else. Just be the best you, you can be and you will always win.

Read more: http://www.thecharlottepost.com/news/2014/03/27/arts-and-entertainment/michael-jackson-s-coming-to-town/

 

 

 

 

‘Immortal’ Does Michael Jackson’s Legacy Justice

Source: The Intell – By ED CONDRAN

michael-jackson-the-immortal-world-tour1

There were a number of projects Michael Jackson never had the chance to work on.

The iconic entertainer, who died five years ago, had hoped to collaborate with Cirque du Soleil, which mixes circus arts and street entertainment.

“He came into our office in Montreal and was quite taken with Cirque du Soleil,” says Laura Silverman, the troupe’s publicist. “We all know how much Michael loved magic and he loved the creativity that is synonymous with Cirque Du Soleil. We loved meeting him and he loved meeting the people behind the scenes at Cirque du Soleil.”

Unfortunately, Jackson passed away before such a project could surface. However, Cirque du Soleil, which was always interested in working with Jackson, decided to move forward with a posthumous production.

“The Immortal World Tour” commenced in October 2011. The show, which stops Friday and Saturday at Trenton’s Sun National Bank Center, is a high-tech amalgam of visual, dance and some of the greatest songs from Jackson’s extensive canon.

“Immortal” hit the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday and Wednesday nights and the production is spectacular. Well, it has to be mind-bending since the show is missing one crucial element — the live artist.

But thanks to a group of gifted acrobats, more than 250 costume changes, some with 275 LED lights, and a full live band, Cirque pulls it off.

The dancers fortunately follow the original choreography, which is embedded in MJ fans’ minds. There are cute tricks, like the rocking 6-foot white glove and penny loafers, which spring into action during “Beat It.”

But the centerpiece of the show is the songs, of course. They’re a reminder of Jackson’s genius. He was an innovator who started the third wave of pop after Elvis Presley and the Beatles. The songs touch everyone and it was not surprising to see children from 4 years old on up at Tuesday’s show. The fans rose to their feet upon hearing any tracks from “Thriller,” which is the greatest-selling album of all time at 40 million copies and counting.

The hits, such as “Billie Jean,” “Bad” and “Smooth Criminal,” are part of the set, but so are lesser-known cuts, such as “Childhood,” which kicks off the show.

“The big fans of Michael Jackson know the deep cuts, like ‘Childhood,’ ” Silverman says while calling from Chicago. “He loved that song and it plays a vital role in the show, which isn’t just about one hit after another. We tell a story.”

Cirque du Soleil can make all of this happen since it is working in conjunction with Michael Jackson’s estate.

“There’s no way we could do this show without the estate’s cooperation,” Silverman says. “They have the same goal that we do, which is to keep Michael Jackson’s legacy alive. We want to keep his message and his music out there.

“There are so many Michael Jackson fans, who have been into him for years and then there are the younger people, who are discovering him after his death. The response to this show has been incredible.”

There is another Jackson Cirque du Soleil production dubbed “One,” which is a house show in Vegas.

“The show in Vegas is more of a typical Cirque show,” Silverman says. “It’s very theatrical. ‘Immortal’ is theatrical, but it’s more of a concert than anything else. You have the band. You have the songs and you have that energy that you can only experience at a concert.”

Some of the musicians participating in the “Immortal” jaunt worked with Jackson, including drummer Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett, who was with the King of Pop for 30 years.

“That adds that level of authenticity to the show,” says Silverman. “We’re fortunate to have so many of Jackson’s creative team on board. We wanted this production to be as legitimate as possible.”

“Immortal” is lively entertainment and it will probably be around for many years since Jackson’s fans have an insatiable appetite for the classic pop he produced.

The show is larger than life, which aptly describes Jackson’s unimaginable existence.

MJ Tribute Band Who’s Bad To Perform March 29 At Indiana State

Source: Tribstar

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TERRE HAUTE — The King of Pop’s musical legacy will come alive during a concert Saturday, March 29, in Indiana State University’s Tilson Auditorium.

“Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band” will take the Tilson stage at 8:30 p.m. playing music from his beginning in the Jackson Five through the smash hits of “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller,” “Smooth Criminal” and “Rock With You.” The family friendly show showcases the pop legend through exact movements and near perfect vocals to match that of Jackson.

Indiana State student Daniel Burkett attended the band’s concert in Wilmington, N.C., and was elated to hear the group is coming to Terre Haute.

“I had such a great time watching them in North Carolina. I cannot wait to see them at home in Tilson,” Burkett said. “Next to Beyonce, they by far put on the best show.”

Who’s Bad has ignited crowds across the globe from their home state in North Carolina to selling out nearly 50 venues in the United Kingdom, including London’s O2 — the venue where the King of Pop was slated to end his career with a 50-show “This Is It” concert series.

Students can purchase tickets through ticketmaster.com, by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or by calling the Hulman Center Box Office. Tickets are $15 for the general public and $12 for ISU students (with a valid student ID). For more information call 812-237-3737.

 

Read more: Tribstar