Despite The Odds: An Iraqi Boy’s Dream Of Becoming A Dancer Was First Inspired By Michael Jackson

Sources: US News – By Sam McNeil – AP | All Things Michael

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AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — As a boy in pre-war Baghdad, Adil Faraj dreamed of becoming a dancer, inspired by a Michael Jackson performance he watched on DVD.

For over a decade, he pursued his passion despite daunting challenges and harassment by strangers and police. He taught himself by moving to dance videos in his cramped family home — hiding from a conservative society scornful of the art form and from the chaos that engulfed Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Last weekend, the sweat and tears paid off when the now 22-year-old performed on stage for the first time, to a packed house at the Amman Contemporary Dance Festival in the Jordanian capital.

After his solo — machine-like moves to the haunting Gary Jules’ song “Mad World” mixed with break dancing — the audience erupted in applause, and Faraj raised his fists triumphantly before bowing.

“I felt tremendous joy,” he said, his chiseled frame sweaty after the dance. “It is like a dream.”

It was a long journey from his tiny Baghdad bedroom to the Amman stage — the last stretch helped along by the New York City-based Battery Dance Company that mentored him through lessons via Skype and brought him to Jordan.

The young dancer’s struggle highlights the decline of the arts in Iraq after years of political upheaval.

But such displays came with a price.

Once, as he danced in a park, he was assaulted by three young men. “One of them hit me, saying, ‘You’re dancing, you are gay, you are like a woman’,” he said. He said he fought back…

 

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Twenty R and B Stars Who Made “We Are The World” A Classic

Sources: About Entertainment – By Ken Simmons| All Things Michael

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The all-star single “We Are The World” was recorded on January 21, 1985 and released March 7, 1985 to raise money to fight poverty, especially hunger, in Africa and the United States. Composed by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and produced by Quincy Jones, it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, RandB, and Adult Contemporary charts, and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. It is one of the ten best selling singles of all-time.

Entertainer/social activist Harry Belafonte and Richie’s manager Ken Kragen created the idea for the song and formed the non-profit organization USA for Africa (United Support of Artists for Africa). The organization’s achievements include:

  • Raised more than $75 million to fight poverty in Africa
  • More than 6 million people joined hands to fight poverty in America
  • More than $25 million was raised across the US to fight hunger and homelessness in America.

“We Are The World” earned four Grammy Awards in 1985: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, and Best Music Video, Short Form.

Here are the “20 RandB Stars Who Made ‘We Are The World’ A Classic”

1.  Michael Jackson (soloist)

Michael Jackson composed “We Are The World” with Lionel Richie and is one of the soloists on the song. They won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1985.

A few of his incredible accomplishments:

He is most awarded artist in history. Among his hundreds of awards:

  • 13 Grammy Awards including winning a record eight Grammys in 1984. Also, a Grammy Living Legend Award and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 86 Billboard Awards
  • 26 American Music Awards, more than any other artist. He was named the American Music Awards “Artist of the Century” and “Artist of the 1980s”
  • 31 Guinness World Records including Best Selling Album in History for Thriller which has sold an estimated 65 million copies worldwide
  • 85 MTV Awards
  • 8 World Music Awards
  • 13 number one singles on the Billboard 100, more than any other male artist
  • First artist to have a Billboard 100 top ten single in five different decades: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
  • Estimated 400 million records sold worldwide
  • Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as a member of The Jackson Five and as a solo artist
  • Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Jackson Five and as a solo artist

 

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7 Songs to Add to Your Earth Day Playlist

Sources: Afropolitan Mom – By Kira O | All Things Michael

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Did you know, April 22 marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day? To celebrate I’ve complied a list of songs that brings awareness to the wonderful everyday beauty around us. I love music and these songs acts as a subtle reminder of our responsibility as humans. No matter what you’re doing on Earth Day, whether you’re planting a tree, or creating environmentally friendly crafts with the kids, why don’t you kick off the day with these inspiring and educational songs about mother earth. Most importantly, I hope these songs encourages us to be a bit more conscious of the roles we play in our environment.

EARTH DAY PLAYLIST

1. Earth Song – Michael Jackson
Did you ever stop to notice/This crying Earth, this weeping shore?/What about the seas/The heavens are falling down/I can’t even breathe

2. Waiting On The World To Change – John Mayer
It’s not that we don’t care,/We just know that the fight ain’t fair/So we keep on waiting/Waiting on the world to change

3. Big Yellow Taxi- Counting Crows
They took all the trees, and put em in a tree museum/And they charged the people a dollar and a half to see them/Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT/I don’t care about spots on my apples,/Leave me the birds and the bees

4. Conviction of the Heart – Kenny Loggins
One with the Earth, with the sky/I believe we’ll survive/If we only try/How long must we wait to change

5. New World Water – Mos Def
The sun is sitting in the treetops burning the woods/And as the flames from the blaze get higher and higher/They say, “Don’t drink the water! We need it for the fire!” (Warning: parental advisory)

6. Wake up America – Miley Cyrus
Wake up America/We’re all in this together/It’s our home so let’s take care of it

7. Say Shh – Atmosphere
Don’t take it for granted, instead take a look around/Quit complaining and build something on that ground/Plant something on that ground, dance and sleep on that ground

Listen to the whole Earth Day playlist and more here

For more Earth Day activities, please check out:

You can also pick up a copy of I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, and educate the kids on what they can do to be more eco-friendly.

Also read Joseph Vogel’s Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson’s Magnum Opus

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Michael Jackson Dance Program For Special Needs

Sources: MJXExpressions | All Things Michael

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Let your kids have an AMAZING time by enrolling them in our exciting Michael Jackson dance classes! Dress like Michael, dance like Michael, perform like Michael! From the Moonwalk to Thriller our students get the ultimate Michael Jackson experience every week in our classes.

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Special Needs Program (Children & Adult) Increase self confidence, better focus and social skills through dance! Learn step-by-step choreography, enjoy fun Michael Jackson exercises, games and more!

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Location: Weekly
Marlboro Dance School
479 NJ-79
Morganville, NJ 07751

Monday 7:00 – 8:00pm – Special Needs Program

* We are a proud member of DDD Real Life Choices

Become part of our growing family!

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MJXpressions, LLC
New York Tri-State/International
Phone: 732 859 2541
Toll Free: 844 (266 5659)

Website: www.mjxpressions.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mjxpressions

Your (#1) NUMBER ONE SOURCE for Michael Jackson Tribute Entertainment!

Copyright / Heal the World words, music and imagery (Michael Jackson )

Michael Jackson Continues To Inspire With Musical Message

Sources: Elpaisano – By Alyssa Lopez | All Things Michael

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A staff writer for the Elpaisano student news paper for Rio Hondo College, has written an article entitled, “Tarnished Reputation of Pop Music.” She talks about how the sexual messages of pop music has cheapened this musical genre and uses Michael Jackson as an example of an artist with a positive message.

“Nonetheless, pop hasn’t always been interpreted as solely a sex driven genre.  The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, artfully wrote unique music by incorporating diverse intellectual and emotional lyrics that cover an extensive amount of topics. For instance, naming a few of Jackson’s numerous hit singles – “Thriller” is a horror themed song about zombies and werewolves; “Rock With You” he is expressing emotional feelings as he is dancing with someone he loves; “Man in the Mirror” a political song about the reflection of oneself who must be apart of the movement to improve the world’s problems.

Overall, The King of Pop has perfectly exemplified that pop music can be a creative and inspiring outlet of emotional connectivity. Inspiring his fans worldwide, continuously ’til this day beyond his death. “

Read the full article here

Revisiting The Songs Of A Goofy Movie On Its 20th Anniversary

Sources: Entertainment Weekly – By Marc Snetiker | Edited By – All Things Michael

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Do not let people tell you that A Goofy Movie is not a Disney classic.

In an effort to rescue Goofy from a 60-year rut of clumsiness and bad clothing, the 1995 animated feature (which turns 20 on April 7) transformed the Disney staple into a three-dimensional character by giving him, among other things, a moody teenage son. (Goofy’s kid, Max, was first introduced in the 1992-1993 TV series Goof Troop, but as a chipper pre-adolescent; he was aged up for the movie.)

Fortunately, teen angst often comes with a soundtrack—which may be why certain Millennials still remember A Goofy Movie so fondly. The film gave us at least one song that, in my opinion, is every bit as iconic as the one where Ariel counts all the mason jars she stole.

Yet A Goofy Movie seems to have been comparatively left in the dust, languishing on VHS for 20 years as too many people ignored its virtues—harping instead on the questions it raised. (Yes, he’s a dog; no, Pluto can’t talk; honestly, it is none of your business why they wear gloves.) So as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this lost gem, allow me to remind you that it’s the music that’s kept it close to my heart. Sure, it’s no Hercules 4: Something’s Wrong with Pegasus, but it deserves your love just the same.

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“Stand Out”
Despite the film’s many merits, there is really only one reason to watch: Powerline, the most popular singer in the Goofy Movie cinematic universe. He’s sort of an amalgam of Michael Jackson and Prince, with the modern sex appeal of Justin Timberlake and the showmanship of Usher when he was still relevant.

“Stand Out” is not Powerline’s best song; for that, skip ahead to the very end of this list. But it’s the song Max chooses when he hijacks a school assembly to impress Roxanne—with his sheer disregard for both school rules and a teenager’s budget.

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GRIOT’S LAMENT TO BE FEATURED AT THE LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL

Sources: LAAPF | Sent By – Griot’s Lament | All Things Michael

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Synopsis

Every line of dialogue in Griot’s Lament is a Michael Jackson song lyric. A series of precipitous events force the ensemble cast into a fateful intersection with justice and violence. Griot and the community struggle against the errors of terror so many make when it seems all is lost.

Filmmaker Bio

While attending his last semester at the USC School of Cinema and Television Munoz directed his first film ” RIOT” for Showtime ( Winner of the Audience Award at Geneva Film Festival) , which investigated the civil unrest following the Rodney King verdict. The film premiered at the FIRST AME Church in South Central and the screening was dramatically disrupted by a group of young black community activist who demanded that the entertainment industry do more to engage, train, and employ young people from disadvantaged communities. Munoz responded by forming FYI FILMS ( Films by Youth Inside) which empowers incarcerated youth via personal story telling and digital filmmaking. His work with this population clearly informs his work. He is committed to revalorizing margnialized perspective. Munoz went on to direct the award winning “DILEMMA” which was funded by BHERC and Sandra Evers Manly. The film focusses on an unlikely friendship between a Latino and Black youth while serving time at a youth correctional facility. “Lil Scrappy Boy” a short doc focussing on one of his FYI FILMS student and his decision to quit his gang in South Long Beach won Best Short Doc at the Urban World Film Festival. Another web series based on two Latino youth he encountered during a FYI FILMS workshop “AYE FOO”, is a cross between “Cheech and Chong” and “Beevis and Butthead”, and focusses on two sixteen year old Latino youth from Easlos. It won Best Comedy Webisode Series at UMFF in 2013. Munoz’s is also shooting a doc titled “A DREAM DEFERRED”, which is organized around Derrick Rose and his Brother / Manager Reg. He created a 15 minute short doc based on the first three days of filming and won BEST SPORTS DOC at Urban Media Makers Film Festival. His current series, “Griot’s Lament” investigates social and racial injustice and uses Michael Jackson song lyrics as dialogue. The series is co-funded by and produced by Nicholas Thomas and Sandra Evers-Manly. Griot’s Lament won the Audience Award for Best Web Series at UMFF in October 2014 , and is nominated in the category of BEST DIRECTION at the upcoming TIVO Creative TV Awards. The web series has over 6 million views across multiple platforms. Munoz is currently doing a final polish on his next feature length film “Make the Moon”, which was developed at the Sundance Writer’s Lab. The narrative is semi auto biographical and centers around a pair of multi racial identical twins and their complex relationship with their mother who struggles to overcome the harsh socio economic pressures seemingly closing in on her and her twin sons.

Director’s Statement

“GRIOT’S LAMENT” applies Michael Jackson’s lyrics to the artist’s ongoing exploration of metamorphosis as a threshold of change, and as medium for identifying political and social injustices. “An innocent eighteen year old black man was killed, and we are that injustice,” sang Michael alongside his sister Janet in the song SCREAM. I use “recontexualization” of these lyrics to revisit the killings of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Mike Brown, and the countless number of innocent youths that have fallen prey to violence in Southwest Chicago. “They don’t care about us” was shouted as a veiled response to the Rodney King beating, but could it have also been a foretelling or foreshadowing of the tragic humanitarian failures incurred during Hurricane Katrina? One violent scene in the film will be staged to replicate the horrific Rodney King beating. The film asks the question, as Michael did repeatedly via his music: How culpable are WE… when society cannot fully function in the realm of justice? The character “Griot” is the conduit for Michael’s often overlooked and under recognized political orientation, a perspective that is often over shadowed by the glow and power of his popular music and larger than life persona. “Griot”, pictured here and played by actor Brandon Hirsch, is a one man Greek chorus; “A broken ear witness to unspeakable crimes.” Griot is based on a homeless man who resides in Inglewood, Calfornia.

Screenings

Sunday, April 26 8:00 PM CGV Cinemas 2
Plays with:  The Heart of Darkness (and Light)ROOM 731
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TADAIMA
KIMI KABUKI
THE FIRST SESSION

Cast & Crew

Director Alex Munoz

 

Read more \ buy your tickets here

The Veronicas Talk Webster Hall, Michael Jackson And New Music

Sources: Digital Journals – By Marko Papadatos | All Things Michael

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Australian pop duo The Veronicas chatted with Digital Journal about their recent performance at Webster Hall, Michael Jackson and their plans for the future.

They performed at Webster Hall in New York City last week, and had nothing but the greatest remarks for the venue. “Webster Hall is such an iconic venue. Feeling that energy through the room, and up on stage was really powerful,” they said.

The duo, comprised of idential twin sisters Jessica and Lisa Marie, noted that their greatest musical influence was the late “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson. “Michael Jackson was, and continues to be our greatest musical influence. The way he bared his soul, and inspired social change through his music, is something that forever inspires us,” they said.

On their plans for the future, they said, “Eat the rich, give to the poor. Inspire progression for all young people drawn to us through our music or our minds. We’re also working on another album, touring, writing a book, developing a documentary on the search for progressing consciousness through a shifting pop culture.”

Their proudest professional moments include each time that they made their parents and fans smile. They listed Jay Buchanan from Rival Sons and Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins as their dream male duet choices.

The Veronicas defined success as having joy and balance in one’s life. “It does not mean a chart number, or a monetary amount. Although those things might make you ‘feel’ successful in the short term, it is only temporary. Success is not something that be can achieved from material gain, or granted by someone else. True success comes from true inner happiness in life with a greater value system. Treating our bodies like a temple (food, yoga), giving our time and passion joining in activist work for wild life and charities. Call your Grandma. Find alternatives to capitalist corporations pushing their own agenda. Know that you deserve better. Respect mother earth. Practice kindness to yourself, and those around you,” they said.

For their fans, they concluded, “Thank you for believing in us when we weren’t sure if we could believe in ourselves.”

To learn more about The Veronicas and their music, check out their official website and on Facebook.

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