MJ One Dancer Lil Buck Takes ‘Jookin’ Style To New Lengths (Updated)

Sources: Miami CBS – By Lisa Petrillo  | Miami Herald | All Things Michael

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A young dancer, discovered over the internet, has a taken a funky style called “Jookin” to a whole new world.

His name is Lil Buck and he is paying it forward to high school students with big dreams at the YoungArts Foundation.

His dancing style is a cross between Michael Jackson and Chris Brown but it’s also all his own.

Lil Buck was introduced to the urban street dance style known as “jookin” in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, was born on May 25, 1988, in Chicago, IL. While still a small child, he moved with his family to Memphis.

Born in Chicago, Riley move with his family (he has seven siblings) to Memphis when he was 6. There, he grew up loving basketball, drawing and Michael Jackson. He found his calling when he was 12 years old, when he walked into a Memphis roller skating rink that was a center for the jookin dance scene and encountered a vision named Bobo who could walk on water. He still lights up describing his moment of enlightenment.

“I see this huge circle and I push to the front and I see this guy smiling, ear to ear smile, with gold in his mouth, gliding, gliding across this carpet in sneakers, like water, he was just melting. And I was like no way. I knew what I wanted to do from that moment on. I just felt it. This is it. It’s over. I have to learn how to do this. This is the most amazing thing I ever saw in my life.”

Always loving to dance, Charles became a great local dancer and became involved in groups such as “Subculture Royalty”, Ladell Beamons “Heal The Hood” and also studied ballet at “New Ballet Ensemble”.

When he was 17-years old appeared in several videos dancing that were featured on YouTube.

Lil Buck later moved to Los Angeles when he was 19, to pursue a career in dance.

He’s worked with the likes of Janelle Monae, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, performed with Madonna during her Super Bowl XLVI halftime show and later joined her MDNA Tour.

With over 40,000 followers on Instagram and millions of views on the net, Lil Buck has a very strong social media presence.

Lil Buck is now featured in multiple commercials, movie/tv show cameos, music videos, Cirque du Soleil show “Michael Jackson: One show and a tour with the Queen herself “M” under his belt.

His dizzying array of projects keeps Riley, who nominally lives in Las Vegas (where he plays the spirit of Michael Jackson for Cirque du Soleil), traveling 250 days a year. “He kinda lives on Delta,” says Jai Armmer, Riley’s manager, a music producer and Memphis friend of 10 years. It’s a challenging schedule even for someone with Riley’s inexhaustible energy. “Yo Jai, man,” says Riley, flopping in a chair after Tuesday’s class. “What do I got coming up? I can’t even keep track.”

 

See video interview here

Michael Jackson Guitarist Jennifer Batten Will Perform In Bucharest

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Guitarist Jennifer Batten, who accompanied Michael Jackson in three world tours, will perform in Bucharest on March 26, 2015 in Club Tribute. She teams up with bassist Stuart Hamm and drummer Chad Wackerman as a supergroup to inaugurate the Live Music Masters series events.

In the ’80s, the guitarist Premier League was dominated by men, but women managed to make their way through. It all started with a band casting for Michael Jackson. A graduate of the prestigious GIT (Guitar Institute of Technology), Jennifer Batten was selected from 100 guitarists for the “Bad” tour. Her professionalism assured continuity in the King of Pop’s band for another 2 world tours “Dangerous” and “HIStory.” Ten years on stages around the world singing along with mega star Michael Jackson, made her mastery visible (see video).

Later, Jennifer Batten worked with Jeff Beck, with whom he was on tour and recorded two albums within 3 years. On the solo guitarist has released three albums and has written two books of music.

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After first discovering Bucharest working with Michael Jackson, Jennifer Batten returns to capital in the company of two exceptional musicians: Stuart Hamm on bass, Chad Wackerman on drums.

Anca Lupeş from Star Management was attracted to Bucharest to inaugurate Live Music Masters series in Club Tribute. The highest caliber concert artists of rock, jazz or classical music who have reached the highest level of virtuosity with their instruments shall be bought to Bucharest under this title

For this first concert, 300 tickets are on sale at prices 66, 77 and 88 RON.

 

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Sources: Info Music | All Things Michael

Jazz Musician Larry Williams Talks About Working At Seawind, Al Jarreau And Michael Jackson

Sources: Yuzu Melodies | Edited By – All Things Michael

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After beginning his career with the Seawind Group in Hawaii in the ’70s, the multi-instrumentalist Larry Williams became a highly sought musician, regularly working with Michael Jackson or Al jarreau as a legendary session musician, playing keyboards, saxophone, flute, trumpet and in various musical genres.

Larry Williams

Larry Williams

What are your favorite musical genre and instrument?

I do not play the trumpet. There is another Larry Williams in Los Angeles that plays the trumpet and has participated in several recordings. I have no favorite instrument. The one I like best is the one I’m playing. I spent years and thousands of hours playing these instruments to a very high level in different musical genres. I love music and whatever the genre, as long as it is high quality. If I had to choose a genre, it would be the progressive jazz because I think it’s the kind that requires the most talent.

What are your memories of early Seawind in Hawaii? And why the group is it separated at the top of his success in 1982?

I keep many many many great memories and some not so good these years. I did my musical training with this group in Hawaii. We started playing in clubs and discos. We played covers. All we wanted was to play music together (and be paid for it). After a few years, it has had enough play only then that we stopped making music for dancing and we concentrated on our own compositions. I think we are the only non-Hawaiian group from the Hawaiian scene that experienced a national success. We separated because our singer Pauline Wilson was married to our drummer and main songwriter Bob Wilson and they broke up. We continued together without singer for several years but it was not the same.

There were other good soft rock groups in Hawaii at the time as Kalapana, Lemuria, Cecilio & Kapono or Summer. How was the relationship between you?

We all knew each other well. It was a small island, a small music scene (laughs). I did some brass arrangements to Kalapana and I went to play the sax and keyboards for Cecilio & Kapono for one of their concerts at Aloha Stadium in 1976 I believe. There were about 80,000 people. They were gods of pop in that time.

The horn section Seawind was considered one of the best in the music industry and have accompanied many celebrities. How it all started there?

I met Jerry Hey and Kim Hutchfroft at the University of Indiana in 1969 and we got along very well. We went every three (but also full of other musicians from the University of Indiana) in Hawaii and this is where we trained Seawind. We shared the same taste for the good rhythm & blues, jazz, funk and improvisation. We liked a lot of copper sections and we designed our own and created our style by listening to Tower of Power horn sections, the White Trash Edgar Winter, James Brown, Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears and other again.

You played on most albums of Michael Jackson. How were the recording sessions?

The first time I played for Michael Jackson, it was for a session led by Quincy Jones for the soundtrack of the musical The Wiz . Later, I also worked on Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad and HIStory . Maybe for a few songs for movie soundtracks too. I also played with Paul McCartney on “Ebony and Ivory” for Sir George Martin. It is on Bad I spent the most time. I spent many months working to program beats, keyboards, sax and brass section. Michael Jackson has always been shy but charming. Any sessions organized by Quincy took place in a joyful and very creative atmosphere (and they were also paid three times more expensive than the other). Michael Jackson did not interfere too much in the work sessions of the musicians were performing with Quincy except voice. I think the best of Michael was done with Quincy Jones so far.

Michael Jackson: “Bad” (Featured on keyboards and sax synth solo on Speed Demon).

Michael Jackson: “Bad” (Larry is featured on keyboards and sax synth solo on Speed Demon).

You are also a longtime collaborator Al Jarreau. What’s it like working with him?

Al is the warmest and most generous artist in the world. I love making music with him. We are almost partners both.

Have you considered trying your luck solo?

The idea of having a solo career never interested me too. I do not feel the need to be at the center of a project. I prefer to play a small role in a major production being the leader of a small production. But I signed a solo CD for Sony Japan because they paid me handsomely for it and they let me complete artistic freedom. The album was released in 2001 and titled Larry Williams and Friends – The Beautiful Struggle (see on Amazon.fr ). It is currently sold out, but if all goes well, it should be re-released in Europe next year.

Is a reformation Seawind possible? What are your plans?

Here is my website that will give you a good presentation of my career and my current projects: http://willyworldmusic.com/ Seawind has reformed for a disc and a few concerts in Japan in 2005. Currently we are working on new songs and videos and hopefully rotate together next year if our respective schedules allow.

 

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Andrae Crouch Dies At 72

Sources: Entertainmentwise – Adam Miller | All Things Michael

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Andrae Crouch, arguably the most influential gospel star of a generation, has died, aged 72. The Songwriter, singer and choir director, who worked on some of the most iconic work for the likes of Michael JacksonMadonna and The Lion King, passed away at the Northridge Hospital Medical Center yesterday afternoon, January 8, after being admitted on Saturday following a heart attack, his publicist Brain Mayer confirmed.

After writing his first gospel song at just 14, Andrae went on to have one of the, if not the most astonishing careers in gospel history. During his career which spanned for over 50 years, he wrote some of gospel’s greatest modern classics, including My Tribute (To God Be the Glory) and Soon and Very Soon – the latter sung at the public memorial to Michael Jackson.

In his 55 years since debuting with his group, the Church of God in Christ Singers with the hit The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power, Andrae went on to win seven Grammy awards and is credited with pushing the Jesus Music movement in the late 1960s and 70’s which later spawned contemporary Christian music.

But his influence knew no bounds. The superstar inspired some of the most important pop musicians of all time including Elvis Presley, who recorded his I’ve Got Confidence for his very own 1972 gospel album He Touched Me, and Paul Simon who covered Jesus Is The Answer. From Ringo Starr to Chaka Kahn, Andrae collaborated with musical gods from across the board, but will be known to the masses for arranging the Michael Jackson classic Man In The Mirror. His choir, The Disciples, also starred in Madonna’s Like A Prayer.

In 1986, he earned an Academy Award nomination for his work on the soundtrack for The Color Purple and also featured on The Lion King – one of the most recognised sound tracks of all time.

In 2004, he became one of the only gospel artists ever to have their immortalised with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and three years later was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame.

But despite his enormous success, unfounded in the world of gospel, Andrae’s story almost becomes even more extraordinary through his battle with dyslexia. Struggling to compose songs, he would draw pictures which would help him to grasp the concept of a piece. For instance, while working on Man In The Mirror, he famously drew a mirror reflecting an image.

In 2011, he told The Associated Press: “I memorised everything through sight, the shape of the word. Some things that I write, you’ll see a page with cartoon pictures or a drawing of a car — like a Ford — or a flag. I still do it on an occasion when a word is strange to me. So when I finish a song, I thank God for bringing me through. You have to press on and know your calling. That’s what I’ve been doing for all my life. I just went forward.”

He later explained that without his dyslexia, he may not have gone on to have the phenomenal career in gospel that he did, adding: “If I was sharp in every area, I might be too big-headed or something.”

In his final years, Andrae suffered several knock backs from major health issues including fights with cancer and diabetes. In December 2014, he was forced to cancel a tour after being hospitalised for pneumonia and congestive heart failure.

Andrae lived with his sister Sandra Crouch in the Pacoima area of Los Angeles. Both were pastors at the New Christ Memorial Church of Los Angeles, in suburb of San Fernando. She released yesterday, which read: “Today my twin brother, womb-mate and best friend went home to be with the Lord. Please keep me, my family and our church family in your prayers. I tried to keep him here but God loved him best.”

Our condolences go out to his family, friends and millions of fans across the world at this time.

 

 

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Prayers For Andraé Crouch: Gospel Legend Hospitalized

Sources: CBN News | In The Studio With Michael | Edited By – All Things Michael

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Gospel legend Andraé Crouch is in the hospital and is seriously ill, according to the family.

His sister, Sandra Crouch, announced he was taken to the hospital Monday with serious health complications.

“At this time, Andraé is being attended by a wonderful medical team, and we are so grateful for the thousands of people around the world who are praying for Andraé right now,” she said in a press statement.

She asked for continued prayer for Andraé’s full recovery but did not specify what exactly the singer was battling.

During the making of his album Mighty Wind in 2006, Andraé told CBN he had a cancerous growth on his throat. When doctors cut it out, the discovered seven nodes or polyps surrounding it. Andraé said when the doctors checked it again after cutting the growth, the nodes were gone.

He also told CBN his mother, father, and brother all died of cancer.

Andraé said then he told the devil, “The buck stops here,” and that no matter what he will praise God.

The Grammy Award-winner has been making gospel music since he was 14 years old and has been in the music industry for more than four decades.

He’s collaborated on projects with Paul Simon, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Barbara Madrell, Elton John, Madonna, Vanessa Williams, and many others. He also serves as a co-pastor at New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando, California. (Source)

“I understand that Andre Crouch has been hospitalized with serious health issues. I have worked with Andre countless times during the Bad, Dangerous and HIStory projects. Andre is a brilliant, kind, loving man who not only brought his amazing choir to the sessions, he brought a spirit of worship, love and sincerity. His contributions to songs like “Man In The Mirror”, “They Don’t Care About Us” and “Keep The Faith” were enormous. He was part of the team, and Michael knew how powerful it was to have one of the best gospel choirs on the planet contribute to his music. I have tremendous respect for him and his sister Sandra, and he is in my prayers.” ~ Brad Sundberg (Source)

Australian Star Of Michael Jackson Thriller Show Says It’s A Dream Come True

Sources: WA Today – By Bhakthi Puvanenthiran | All Things Michael

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It’s not impersonation, its celebration. That’s the heavily underlined message from performer MiG Ayesa and executive producer Torben Brookman about Thriller Live, a touring stage show featuring the songs and stylings of pop great Michael Jackson.

“We don’t want to impersonate Michael Jackson. First of all I’m not black so it’s a different thing,” said Filipino-born, Sydney-raised Ayesa, who is one of five singers taking on Jackson’s 40 years legacy.

“I’m not pretending to be Michael Jackson, I’m being MiG singing Michael Jackson songs with four other singers and 16 dancers. Having said that we need to hint at his style, try and emulate his flavour without ever mimicking. It’s a really careful balance because of course he has those serious fans who will know if you’ve hit the wrong angle on a particular dance move.”

While the show is not officially endorsed by Jackson, Brookman said it was developed by producer Adrian Grant while he was still alive , and debuted a year before Jackson’s death in 2008. Since his death it has become a montage of his 40-year career, and part of the enormous MJ industry that has outlived him.

“He [Grant] met Michael, they spoke about the show and he went back and forth and stayed with Michael at Neverland and Michael was very supportive of him creating the show,” Ayesa said.

Since then, the show has continued its mammoth run in the West End along with international tours that have been seen by more than 3 million fans.

For Ayesa, a self described die-hard fan, its been a childhood dream come true.

“There was never a time when I wasn’t a Michael Jackson fan,” he said. “I’m actually old enough to remember the Jackson 5 days, and then in high school our garage band did covers of his songs. It’s been something I’ve fallen really naturally into.”

Ayesa’s story from Sydneysider to internationally touring performer is an unlikely one.

“I’m a total hack who is making it up as I go along,” he said. “During university, I was making $6 an hour working at the local cinema when a friend of mine started making serious money from appearing in commercials. I thought, ‘There’s got to be an easier way’, so I got an agent and ended up getting some ads.”

Now he lives in New York after long stints in London and Los Angeles and has hundreds of tour dates under his belt.

Since winning an audition for Thriller Live in London in 2008, Ayesa has worked with the group on and off. The hardest part, he says, is the vocal range.

“We’ve tried to do everything as close to the original as possible but some of those high notes on the recordings were even impossible for Michael Jackson himself to do live, so we bring things down to the key he did them live in.”

Do the songs ever get boring?

“Never. I’ve been listening to them my whole life and when I hear now them they feel as fresh as the first day I heard them.”

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Bassist Nathan East Talks About Working With Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Madonna And More

Sources: ABC News – By Jared T. Miller| All Things Michael

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What do Daft Punk, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Eric Clapton and George Harrison all have in common?

His name is Nathan East.

East is the bassist whose phone rings when singers come to Los Angeles to record a record — or need a bassist to perform with them on the road. Though East is a constant presence on a home stereo—having played on over 2,000 of music’s most iconic records—he’s not quite a household name, preferring to work as a supporting player for most of his career. But 2014 has seen East step to the front of the stage.

“I’ve been in the business now 35 years, and there’s not too much that I haven’t seen,” East told ABC News. “Having the opportunity for a first—a first solo album and a documentary—that stuff is pretty exciting.”

In those 35 years spent working, he’s built a reputation of being the go-to guy for pop’s brightest stars. Though that phrase became true back in the 1970s when Barry White hired East and his band for a tour and later invited him to recording sessions, his lines still permeate radio’s biggest hits; he was one of the core musicians on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”

“It would be great if he wrote down all the records he was on,” said longtime collaborator Phil Collins, in a scene from the documentary on East. “You’d go: ‘My God, that was him! My god, that was him! My God, that was him!’”

A read of his resume — which includes the early work of Whitney Houston and Madonna, studio time with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson and even a tour with the late Beatle George Harrison — backs up Collins’ reaction. Many such opportunities came as L.A. producers, Jones among them, hired him for sessions. Stars hired him thereafter based on his reputation and his tasteful approach to their music.

“It wasn’t long before I found myself working every single day, starting from around 1980,” East said. “If you leave some good notes on the table, they start following you around.”

His solo album–now Grammy-nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album–came out March 25, and at the Dec. 2 premiere of ‘For The Record,’ the documentary film about the album and his life, he spoke with ABC News about some of his favorite performers and moments in his career:

East thinks of Eric Clapton “like a brother” after touring extensively with him since the 80s (and still does, to this day) after Clapton was impressed with his playing at Live Aid, but one of the most meaningful moments in their relationship East remembers is recording “Tears in Heaven” shortly after the death of Clapton’s son Connor.

“It was like the song was playing us—we were just in there and the notes were just coming out, very heartfelt. That whole album [Connor] was in the back of everybody’s mind,” East said. “It really turned into a way for him to thank the world and say to the world, ‘thank you for being there with me through this tragedy.’”

After playing with George Harrison’s last tour while with Eric Clapton’s band, the two became friends and each time East visited him in England, Harrison would send a car to pick East up from the airport and drive him to Harrison’s home.

Barry White used to sing East’s parts to him. “It was an amazing process,” East recalled, saying his professional debut with the singer was like going to “Barry White University.”

“He’d just go sing everybody their part, and then you go to start playing, the drummer’s playing what he sang, and the next thing you know you have a hit record on your hands. It was unbelievable.”

assist Nathan East performs on stage during the Nathan East Solo Debut Concert

assist Nathan East performs on stage during the Nathan East Solo Debut Concert

East doesn’t remember the Michael Jackson that made headlines: “There wasn’t this guy with a gorilla,” East recalled, laughing as he remembered the King of Pop to be hardworking and professional underneath his superstar status. “For him, the most exciting thing was if he could walk down to 7-11 and go buy something and come back—if he could do that alone, that was pretty exciting for him.”

“This beautiful 19-year-old girl comes in and I’m thinking to myself, ‘well, she can certainly sing,” East said, remembering Whitney Houston’s first-ever studio sessions. “She had the gift, but she’d go in there and sing her heart out.” He also played for Madonna’s first studio sessions, and said it was refreshing to see both rise to stardom “strictly because of the hard work.”

He can’t say much about working with Daft Punk—they stopped him mid-posting when he wanted to show his Facebook fans what the studio session was like. But he called recording with the duo (which took place separately; East’s bass part was brought to guitarist Nile Rodgers, and later to Pharrell before East rerecorded the final line) “refreshing,” referencing their use of period-appropriate equipment and players as important given the dominance of synthesizers and electronic instruments in most mainstream music.

“You’ve got a real drummer, and guitars, Nile Rodgers, and it feels great. And it’s a hit! So it kind of defied the laws of gravity,” East said. “When everybody starts to go for the same thing, when you just step outside of whatever that mold is, that model, it’s rewarding.”

“For The Record” will be released mid-December on Hulu. East plans to release a second solo album, composed from songs recorded during the sessions that appear in the film, by summer 2015. Fourplay, a jazz quartet he co-founded, will celebrate their 25th anniversary with an album release next year as well.

 

 

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Human Nature’s Phil Burton Lists Michael Jackson’s History Tour As His Top Three Concerts

Sources: All Things Michael | Courier Mail

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Australian’s multi-platinum-selling vocal group Human Nature once worked with Michael Jackson as one of his opening acts for his HIStory tour in Australia in December 1996.  Michael also continued to have them open in Europe through the summer of 1997.

When Smokey Robinson brought the group to Las Vegas in May 2009 to produce a long engagement at the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino, Michael gave Smokey permission to quote him on promotional materials for the show: “Human Nature Is Amazing – Michael Jackson”

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Shortly after Michael’s passing, band member Andrew Tierney was been quoted as saying, “Touring as opening act for Michael Jackson on his last world tour was an incredible break for us. We learned so much from seeing him perform that many times and experienced things that have shaped us into the entertainers we are today. He was the ultimate artist and so inspiring,”

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Human Nature:  (L-R) Toby Allen, Michael Tierney , Andrew Tierney, Phil Burton 

Group member Phil Burton was recently asked about the top three concert’s he’s been to and here’s what he said:

“Prince at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in 2003. No tricks, no gimmicks, just awesome musicianship and incredible showmanship. Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden in 2014. I’ve loved Billy’s music since I was a little boy, and to see him at his spiritual home of ‘The Garden’ was a real tick off my bucket list and quite an emotional experience. Lastly would have to be Michael Jackson in Europe in 1997. We were lucky enough to be his support act and our AAA passes meant we could watch his show from pretty much wherever we wanted. To be able to stand in the wings while he danced and sang about six feet away was very surreal. I think I watched around 35 of his 45 shows and never once felt bored. Amazing.”

See the group’s tribute to Michael and their cover of Bruno Mars “Treasure” below.

 

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