Judith Hill Reveals What Michael Jackson Was Really Like – EXCLUSIVE

Source: Yahoo Celebrity – By Stephanie Soteriou | All Things Michael


Judith Hill probably isn’t a name that many of you know, but you probably should considering she has worked with the likes of Michael Jackson, Prince, and John Legend and featured in Oscar-winning documentary, ‘20 Feet From Stardom’, before the release of her debut solo album, ‘Back In Time’.

We mean, that is definitely no small feat.

The amazing singer also participated in the US TV series of ‘The Voice’, sparking complaints and backlash against the show when she was eliminated from the competition, which must have made her departure a little easier for her to swallow.

With such an amazing back-catalogue of musical legends listed as her collaborators, when we caught up with Judith we just had to get all the goss on what it is like working with literal superstars – oh, as well as find out first-hand what the iconic Michael Jackson was really like as a person.

The 31-year-old was selected as MJ’s duet partner for his ‘This Is It’ concert tour, practicing closely with him in the months leading up to his sudden death on June 25th 2009, and Judith attracted global attention when she performed at the star’s memorial at the Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles on July 7th of the same year, leading on his song ‘Heal The World’, and impressing fans across the globe.


Discussing what it was like working with Michael, Judith admitted that he was a little intimidating but mostly just pretty bloomin’ inspiring, telling us: “He’s an incredible icon. You just pinch yourself when you’re on stage and have the opportunity to really see greatness and experience greatness.

“Michael is everything in that way and I think for me at the time, coming out of seniot college, I was very green – I hadn’t really done a huge tour. Working with Michael Jackson was an experience, it blew my mind because everything about him really caught on.


“His spirit made me jam in what he believed in, it really inspired me and showed me that there’s so much that can be done as an artists, not just as a great singer; how much power you have, and seeing it first-hand from Michael, was life-changing.”

We can only imagine.

And with Judith being the one to work with Michael the most in the months before he passed away she knew him incredibly well on a personal level, adding: “He’s very sweet, a very, very kind person. Just very gracious and warm-hearted.

“He was very much a perfectionist, he was an expert and he inspired us to be experts. It was very much a great challenge of how to become greater and he’s very intimidating in that way because you’re sharing a stage with Michael Jackson, but he really encouraged me.

“He directed me in a lot of things and I was very excited to see him as a singer.”

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“Michael Is The One Person In My Life Who Really Steered Where I Was Going,” Says Thriller Live Cleo Higgins

Sources: Hull Daily Mail | All Things Michael


Michael Joseph Jackson sold 750 million records worldwide, was awarded 13 Grammy awards, 26 American Music Awards and his albums collectively spent 4,458 weeks in the Billboard charts – all before his death in 2009.

Jackson earned $125m in 1989 alone from endorsements and album sales, the Bad World Tour sold 4.4 million tickets, Thriller spent 211 weeks in the US charts and $60m of sales from We Are The World was donated to Africa’s famine relief.

Within one year of his untimely death, 35 million albums were sold, and Jackson even released a posthumous record.

Strong work. Shamone.

But, whether you be a fan of old, who allowed his music to be at the forefront as the soundtrack to your younger days, or a newcomer to the Jackson world, there is still chance to see his masterpieces, through the power of theatre.

Created for the West End in January 2009, Thriller promises to fill two and a half hours of your life with hits that pay homage to Jackson’s unprecedented 45-year career, and has been hailed as well worth the watch.

But you can put your Megabus tickets away, as the show is coming to us.

Straight from its seventh year at the top of the charts, Thriller will be descending upon the city from Monday, for a six-date run, and won’t stop until you get enough.

One cast member is particularly enamoured with singing her hero’s hits.

“Michael is the one person in my life who really steered where I was going,” says Cleo Higgins, who found fame as one-third of Nineties girl group Cleopatra.

“I must have cried every day for a year when he died. I felt so attached to him through his music.”

Cast as one of four lead singers in the production, performing live should come naturally to Cleo.

Her original namesake band consisted of her and her two sisters, achieving a top five hit with Comin’ Atcha, and, after disbanding, Cleo made it through to the semi-finals of The Voice in 2013, with the help from super producer and Cheryl’s bestie Will.I.Am.

“This is my first ever theatre performing experience,” admits Cleo. “But the minute I knew auditions were being held, I was straight on the motorway. I had to get the part. Michael is such an important part of my life.”

For those whose interests have been peaked, do not expect a story of Jackson’s life with a disclaimer suggesting changes for dramatic effect, or a plotted story at all.

“It’s not a play,” Cleo says. “There are four singers and a Michael dance impersonator, who does an amazing moonwalk.

“But we aren’t impersonating Michael with our voices, it’s still us, we’re just reliving the music for the audience.

“It’s a celebration of his musical work and its the closest thing to seeing what he would have been like live. It’s so good, it’s given me the bug to carry on in theatre – despite the long hours!

“It’s so hard being away from your family, especially my kids, but the music really does pull you through.

“I love singing Blame It On The Boogie, because everyone gets up dancing, but during The Way You Make Me Feel, I have to wear a rather tight catsuit. So that took some nerve getting into.

“But the night is about Michael, who was brilliant at being himself. There is so much passion in this show, which reflects how much passion Michael had to change the world.

“People leave the theatre feeling amazing, but there isn’t a dry eye in the house after Man In The Mirror. It’s a real tearjerker.”

Thriller Live:

When & where: Monday to Saturday, October 31. 7.30pm. Saturday, 4pm and 8pm. Hull New Theatre, Kingston Square, Hull

Tickets: From £22.50

Call: 01482 300300 or visit www.hullboxoffice.co.uk


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Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis Discuss Working On Scream With Janet And Michael

Sources: Rolling Stone – By Steve Appleford | All Things Michael


Jam: Michael had asked Janet to do a song with him. Janet came to Minneapolis just to give us some inspiration for some tracks. The song that ended up becoming “Scream.” We went to his apartment in Trump Tower, put the track on and basically wrote the song lyrically in an hour. He definitely had things to get off his chest and that’s what it was about. Recording the song was probably one of the most mind-blowing experiences ever. He walked into the studio, very nice and very kind: “OK, I’m going to try my part now. . . .” So Michael goes in and the moment the music starts, he turns into the Tasmanian Devil. He’s a whole different person, stomping, clapping, he’s got jewelry jingling — all the stuff you’re not supposed to do in the studio. Me and Terry are sitting there going “Oh my God!”

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Lewis: Screaming like fans.

Jam: He totally nails the song start to finish. Janet leans in and goes, “I’ll do my vocal in Minneapolis.” She wanted no part of following that. I don’t blame her. So we do Janet’s vocal, we send it to him. “Oh, Janet sounds really good. Where did you record her?” Minneapolis. “Oh, I want to come to Minneapolis and do my vocal.” What you got was this sibling rivalry between brother and sister who are also competitive. Yeah, we love each other, but I’m going to sing my a** off.

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Thriller Drummer Ndugu Chancler To Perform At Troy University

Sources:  Troy University – Facebook | All Things Michael


“Thriller” drummer Ndugu Chancler will take the stage with TROY students when Troy University’s John M. Long School of Music hosts “Groovin’ with the Stars,” a musical showcase featuring student group POPulus and the TROY Jazz Ensemble.

The showcase will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13 in the Claudia Crosby Theater. POPulus will use the date to release its newest digital production, “Who You Are.”

Chancler is a drummer, percussionist, producer, composer, clinician and educator, and will speak on aspects of the music industry to students, faculty and guests at 10 a.m. Oct. 13 in the Long Hall Band Room. His drumming can be heard on popular recordings such as the song Billie Jean on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and many Santana hits. A native of Shreveport, La., Chancler is an adjunct assistant professor of music in the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.

POPulus’ “Who You Are” EP consists of six original songs and was recorded at TROY and Starke Lake Studios in Orlando, Fla. It’s the group’s third EP, said Robert W. Smith, professor of music and coordinator of the school’s Music Industry Program.

“The title track of the EP is a representation of being who you truly are and never losing sight of what makes you special,” he said.

The performance and lecture is free and open to the public.

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Bass And Saxophone Musician Wilton Felder Dies

Sources: LA Times | All Things Michael

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Bass and saxophone player Wilton Felder, who was an original member of the Crusaders and performed on hundreds of recordings with artists such as Joni Mitchell and Michael Jackson, has died at his home in Whittier. He was 75.

The cause of his death Sunday was complications from cancer, said his son, Wilton Felder Jr.

Felder was in high demand for recording sessions; it’s him on bass for the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” album and numerous tracks by Mitchell.

“She’s a phenomenal composer and person,” Felder said of Mitchell in a 2006 interview with the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk. “Her music is just fun to play.”

Felder also recorded with B.B. King, Randy Newman, Nancy Wilson, Steely Dan, Barry White, Cat Stevens and many others, on saxophone as well as electric bass.

Mike’s Daily Jukebox called Felder:

“One of the greatest saxophone players and bassists of the 70’s and 80’s. He left his mark on music history with some of the biggest hits of the decade. Remember that incredible bass line in “I Want You Back”? It looked like Jermaine Jackson was playing, but it was studio musician, Wilton Felder. How about that nasty funk on Marvin’s “Let’s Get It On” and “I Want You”? All done by Wilton Felder.”

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Sources: LA Times | Mike’s Daily Jukebox| All Things Michael


Sources: Broward New Times – By Lee Zimmerman | All Things Michael


If the old saying is true, that you’re known by the company you keep, then Wesley Phillips ought to be one of the most famous musicians in the world. After all, this Broward-based singer and trumpet player has performed with some of the biggest legends in the biz — Michael Jackson, James Brown, and disco sensations Cameo chief among them. What’s even more remarkable is that his association with these stars began at an incredibly young age. By luck or simply by happenstance, Phillips has a career most musicians can only dream about.

His stint with Brown led him to Michael Jackson’s backing band in the late ’70s, including a credit on the Jacksons’ live album recorded during the group’s Triumph tour in 1981. “Michael would always talk in this really high voice,” he remembers. “But when he talked business, his voice would go down several octaves. He was a business genius, so much so that the business people were intimidated by him.”

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In Phillips’ opinion, many of Michael’s problems could be attributed to those outside forces that tried to put themselves between him and his family. “He was a real Peter Pan,” Phillips maintains. “He never had a childhood. The people around him weren’t trustworthy, and in the end they sold him out.”

Contrary to the aloof image that Michael conveyed to the public, Phillips says that in person he was not only friendly and easy to talk to but a generous employer as well. He did seven tours with Jackson and says the singer was a really good guy and paid his musicians some of the highest salaries in the business. He describes the time Jackson took his band to Hawaii for what was supposed to be a three-week tour. After the first night, the singer treated them to a lavish dinner and then entertained them with a private show. “Suddenly the stage lights came on and there was Michael, singing and dancing just for us. Then he announced that the three-week tour of Hawaii was really a special gift for us, a three-week vacation at his expense.”

So did that make Jackson a tough taskmaster? Not necessarily Phillips says. “Michael would say, ‘If I need to tell you how to play something, I wouldn’t have hired you.’”

Phillips did seven tours with Jackson and was slated to do his European comeback tour, expressly titled This Is It, when he and the other musicians received word of the singer’s death. “It would have been a good payday,” he laments, adding that he remains suspicious of the circumstances surrounding Jackson’s death.


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Nisha Kataria – The Voice That Michael Jackson Adored

Sources: The Times of India | All Things Michael


PHOENIX: On a bright and sunny day in the fall of 2002, an Indian family living there was walking back to the car after attending a fair. The father asked his daughter to sing. Nisha Kataria, the daughter, started to sing. Within a minute or so, a stranger, who later introduced himself as an agent from Hollywood, approached the family and complimented Nisha on her singing and asked for her contact information.

Time went by and Nisha and her parents took that chance meeting as one of the many when people from the music Industry appreciated her singing but none thought of taking her under their wings. But almost a year since that fateful meeting at the county fair parking lot, Nisha’s dad received a call from Dieter Weisner, Michael Jackson’s manager, telling him that Michael had heard good things about Nisha’s singing and that he wanted to meet her.

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Nisha’s family dropped all engagements and drove down to Neverland. Upon their arrival, Nisha was led into his private home. Nisha and Michael casually talked for a bit before he asked her to sing for him. He requested that she sing “I will always love you” and once she completed the first verse and first hook, Jackson applauded and said, “You have the voice of an angel and not a lot of people can do what you just did.” Ever since, it became Jackson’s goal to make Nisha a star.

Nisha and her mother were invited to move into Neverland, where they stayed for three months. During that time, Nisha trained with Jackson and recorded a duet, which is yet to be released. They were set to go on and on together, but destiny had a different plan. With Michael Jackson having his own problems with court cases and his deteriorating health and his eventual death, his dream of having Nisha debut alongside himself remained unfulfilled.

Till date, Nisha has had a single released in Germany and has toured with boyband Westlife in the UK. After a hiatus, Nisha returns to the music scene with an EP dedicated to the man who believed in her first: Michael Jackson.

Nisha is also working in collaboration with Bappi Lahiri and his “Slum Stars” project. Like Michael, Bappi too has taken a strong liking to Nisha’s voice and wants her to share her music with the world.

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MJ Guitarist Jennifer Batten To Perform This Friday

Sources: South  Florida | All Things Michael


Guitarist Jennifer Batten no longer tours with a road crew, dancers or pop stars. These days, she performs solo and hauls her own stuff across the country in an RV.

Batten, who played with Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck, will deliver a multimedia performance — with video, photos, music and storytelling — Friday, Aug. 14, in Davie.

Batten has been doing the show for about 10 years. She plays guitar in sync with images that change on the beat.

“It’s kind of a 3-D experience,” she says.

Onstage, her song “Cat Fight” is supported by cartoons of Felix the Cat as her guitar whines like an irritated feline. “I’m having a blast,” she says.

Batten, 57, travels to shows in an RV in order to haul all her multimedia material.

“I really love the lifestyle, waking up in campgrounds with old retired people and birds and bees,” she says. “It’s just fun to sit out there and see parts of America.”

It’s opposite her earlier career. She auditioned from a field of about 100 musicians and was selected to play lead guitar on three Jackson tours: Bad (1987-89), Dangerous (1992) and HIStory (1996-97). A striking presence with an enormous mane of white hair, Batten also was onstage with Jackson in 1993 during his Super Bowl performance.

“It was like paid vacation, a way to see the world and have fun,” recalls Batten, who acknowledges bittersweet feelings when speaking of Jackson, who died in 2009. ” It was 100 percent fun. I was with them for 10 years, and it was a hell of a blessing.”

She followed that by playing for three years with Beck, ranked the No. 5 guitarist of all time by “Rolling Stone” magazine.

“He’s been my guitar hero since I was teenager,” says Batten, who began playing at age 8. “It was just fun to hang out with him and to hear his story.”

Batten herself has released three albums: “Above Below and Beyond” (1992), “Jennifer Batten’s Tribal Rage: Momentum” (1997) and “Whatever” (2007). She has also written two instructional music books: “Two Hand Rock” and “The Transcribed Guitar Solos of Peter Sprague.”

Jennifer Batten will perform 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14, at Your Big Picture Cafe, 5935 S. University Drive, in Davie. Tickets cost $10, $25 or $50. Call 954-252-5644 or go to YourBigPictureCafe.com. Batten also will give a free guitar clinic 2 p.m. Saturday at Sam Ash Music Store, 5360 NW 167th St., in Miami Lakes and a three-hour “self-empowerment for the modern musician” seminar noon Sunday at Sam Ash Music Store, 5460 W. Sample Road, in Margate. The seminar costs $49 in advance, $55 at the door via Jennifer Batten.com.



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