Three-Day Birthday Celebration For ‘King of Pop’ Gets Underway

Sources: Post-Tribute – By Teresa Auch Schultz | All Things Michael


GARY — The Michael Jackson Festival of the Arts kicked off with music and dancing, but the real star was the King of Pop’s mother.

Katherine Jackson sat on a bench outside the family’s former house in Gary at 2300 Jackson Street and watched as students from Wirt-Emerson High School kicked OFF the festivities with a medley of some of her son’s most famous songs.

Katherine Jackson organized the event to honor her son’s 56th birthday and his fifth since he died in 2009.

Fans gathered around the fence surrounding the house, cheering and waving as Katherine Jackson walked out of the home and sat down.

They didn’t ignore the music, though, as many danced along to the orchestra, which is getting ready to tour China with Michael Jackson’s music.

Rovelli Grib, the orchestra’s director, said the performance was a good chance for the students to practice before their trip.

“We loved it,” he said.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson welcomed the fans to the event, pointing out the work done by the Fuller Center’s work to renovate four homes on the same block, which was still going on when the festival started.

“People see that we are rebuilding the city of Gary,” she said during her opening remarks.

Several local residents came by to see that work, including Ron and Peggy Smith of Portage. Although the couple said they aren’t Michael Jackson fans, they have come out to his house two other times since he died.

“I just wanted to see what’s going on,” Ron Smith said, adding that the couple made a point to get there early so they could see the renovation work by the Fuller Center.

Keita Saad mading the trip from her home in Cleveland. Saad said she hadn’t visited the Jackson home before because work usually got in the way during previous events at the home.

She decided to not let work get in her way this year, though.

“If anything, Michael Jackson taught us to seize the day,” she said, handing out pamphlets with a drawing of his face.

The festival is set to continue Friday and Saturday with musical acts and a dance competition.

Read more at Post-Tribune

Legends in Concert: Michael Jackson’s Birthday Incentive To Celebrate In Myrtle Beach

Source: Myrtle Beach Online – By BY Steve Palisin | All Things Michael

Jimmy Lucas, an Aiken native, is finishing his second summer in a row of paying tribute to the late Michael Jackson at Legends in Concert in Myrtle Beach. Show continue at 8 p.m. daily through Sunday.

Jimmy Lucas, an Aiken native, is finishing his second summer in a row of paying tribute to the late Michael Jackson at Legends in Concert in Myrtle Beach. Show continue at 8 p.m. daily through Sunday.

Michael Jackson would have turned 56 years old on Friday, but his music remains alive in a new, posthumous single, “Love Never Felt So Good,” and on Legends in Concert’s stage in Myrtle Beach for a last hurrah this weekend.

Jimmy Lucas, an Aiken native, has performed as the Gloved One for two summers locally at Legends, at U.S. 17 Bypass and 29th Avenue North, catty corner from Broadway at the Beach. This year, he has been joined by tribute artitsts to The Blues Brothers (Jake and Elwood Blues, portrayed by Dan Meisner and Russ Peterson, respectively), Madonna (Kimberly Goltry), Elvis Presley (Leo Days), and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler (Chris Van Dahl). Their shows continue at 8 p.m. daily through Sunday.

The fall lineup, reflecting some of the most requested acts in Myrtle Beach, kicks in Tuesday, going through Oct. 30, with The Blues Brothers (Meisner and Peterson) carrying on, along with Adele (J.C. Brando), Johnny Cash (Paul Eve), Elvis Presley (Dean Z, the overall 2013 Ultimate Elvis Competition winner, sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.), and Barry White (Jourdan Carroll). Brando’s Adele set also might endear James Bond fans, for it includes the tingling theme to the latest 007 film, “Skyfall,” from 2012.

Speaking two weeks before the current Legends roster bids farewell to summer, ushers in a new lineup of artists for fall, Lucas said he always likes to celebrate the anniversary of Jackson’s birthday. Portraying the late King of Pop, whom he admired as a childhood fan, Lucas sees his professional role as adding “more light to his legacy.”

“I always wanted to do something to keep his legacy alive,” said Lucas about Jackson, who died in June 2009.

He remembered studying footage closely of Jackson on and off stage, “his whole style in how he carried himself, and his mannerisms.”

Lucas figured that he watched videos “every single day for four to six hours a day for five to six months,” and the studies continue. Joining Legends in 2009, starting with its Las Vegas site, and later spending two summers in Myrtle Beach, Lucas called his employer and musical colleagues “like a family to me.”

Jason Aiesi, Legends’ general manager in Myrtle Beach, having the same Jackson tribute artist the last two summers set a new precedent locally, because usually any one person – outside of the people who take turns as The Blues Brothers and Elvis, respectively – does not play “the same season two years in a row.”

“I think Michael Jackson has worked his way into that echelon,” Aiesi said.

When Legends reopened in March 2011 at its new Myrtle Beach site at Broadway at the Beach, after relocating from Surfside Beach, William Hall portrayed Jackson in that grand opening lineup for two months. Hall has since gone on to other endeavors, but he still pays tribute to Jackson, Aiesi said.

‘A part of me’

Lucas said performing as Jackson – and triggering memories for fans – “has become a part of me, but I’m not Michael Jackson, and I’m not trying to be Michael Jackson.”

“I am Michael Jackson on stage,” he said, “and that’s as far as it goes.”

Lucas said with Jackson’s extensive musical catalog, going back to his roots with the Jackson 5 on Motown Records, then through his work with the Jacksons, and ultimately, all the record-breaking solo albums, he has had so much material to enjoy and appreciate.

From the “Off the Wall” album in 1979, Lucas said he would love to do “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” in a show and conquer that “vocal range.” He called the song that closes the first side of the vinyl LP, “Get on the Floor,” an “amazing” piece as well.

With Legends, two singles from Jackson’s album three years later, “Billie Jean” and “Thriller,” the title track, remain mainstays “without question” in his set, Lucas said, because they’re among Jackson’s most recognizable recordings and music video hits from MTV’s heyday in the 1980s.

Lucas sees “Thriller” as “by far, the most iconic and most unbelievable album,” and he never can forget the “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” concert and TV special in 1983 where Jackson performed “Billie Jean” with his trademark “moonwalk,” sliding his feet backward in one fluid dance motion.

Noting he had read that hundreds of songs were considered for the “Thriller” CD, Lucas said three of its hits – “Beat It,” “Human Nature” and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” – were not part of original plans for the album.

Jackson’s next CD, “Bad,” from 1987, with singles such as “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Dirty Diana” and “Smooth Criminal,” captivated Lucas for the style and outfits, as he has exhibited here with Legends with a four-piece band and four dancers.

Dressing the part a few years ago – including fitting the wig, lipstick, arched eyebrows, and makeup and lipstick just right – Lucas said at first, the process took about one hour and 20 minutes, but he has streamlined the routine to about “35 to 40 minutes.”

“Everything about the ‘Bad’ era was it for me,” said Lucas, a golfer who would love to return to Legends for a third straight summer in Myrtle Beach.

“I’m always on the course, playing,” he said.

Information | 238-7827, 800-960-7469

Did you know? | Michael Jackson had three recordings that crossed paths with Paul McCartney:

• For “Off the Wall,” released in 1979, Jackson covered “Girlfriend,” which the former Beatle wrote and originally recorded with Wings on the group’s “London Town” album in 1978.

• “The Girl Is Mine,” which Jackson wrote, singing in a duet with McCartney, led the seven singles Jackson’s “Thriller” album, released in 1982.

• Jackson and McCartney composed and recorded “Say Say Say,” the debut single from Sir Paul’s “Pipes of Peace” CD in 1983.

Michael Jackson Audio Comic Book To Mark King Of Pop’s Birthday

Sources: BlueWater Production | All Things Michael

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Bluewater Productions is proud to announce a new audio comic book about the life of superstar Michael Jackson. The updated release, Tribute: Michael Jackson is in celebration of what would have been the King of Pop’s fifty-sixth birthday on August 29th. In conjunction with the audiobook, an expanded edition of the original comic book,Fame: Michael Jackson, a 40-page graphic novel, will be available in print and digital formats.

Several Jackson family members have expressed their appreciation regarding this touching tribute to Michael.

Michael Jackson’s reign as the King of Pop is celebrated in the latest biographical comic book from Bluewater Productions. The newest addition to the publisher’s critically acclaimed library features a cover and foreword by artist and friend of Jackson’s Giuseppe Mazzola. The life of the world’s most popular entertainer was infused with fantasy and tragedy. His discography is legendary. His legacy is complicated and unparalleled.

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In a partnership with Colonial Radio Theatre, one of the top, award-winning producers of audio drama, Bluewater has produced audiobooks based off three pop culture subjects of their sold-out comic book series. These updated versions of the comic books have been written by writer Michael Frizell. Audiobooks featuring Princess Diana, One Direction, and Justin Bieber were released earlier this year, while Selena Gomez, Demi Lovat,o and Taylor Swift audiobooks will be released later this fall.

“The stories, and legends, behind the real people featured in Bluewater titles continue to grow. In order to keep the stories timely and current, the scripts had to be expanded. Longtime readers will find something new and up-to-the-minute here, while new readers will be immersed in the topics,” said Frizell.

The Fame series was launched in 2010 as a companion piece to the successful Female Force andPolitical Power biography titles. The comic series allows Bluewater to delve into the celebrity culture and understand how a person rises to fame, deals with the newfound celebrity status, and continues to produce in the public eye. Individual issues spotlight actors, sports figures, recording artists, and the British royal family.

Bluewater Production’s biography comics have been embraced by the media and featured on several television news outlets including The Today Show, MTV, and on CNN. Their comics and graphic novels have also been featured in publications such as Forbes, Vanity Fair, Time Magazine, andPeople magazine.

Print copies of the graphic novel of Fame: Michael Jackson as well as the comic book edition can be ordered at Comic Flea Market here: The audio books cost $3.95 and are available through Audible, iTunes and Nook.


Download the comic to your e-reader from iTunes, Kindle, Wowio, ComiXology, DriveThru Comics, Google Play, My Digital Comics, Overdrive, Iverse, Biblioboard, Flipkart, Axis360, Epic!, Blio, Entitle,, Wheeler, Scoop, Nook, Kobo and wherever eBooks are sold.

Read more at Bluewater Productions


Fans Urged To Use Bus Route For Michael Jackson Tribute Festival

Sources: Post-Tribune | All Things Michael


GARY – Michael Jackson fans wanting to take the bus to the celebration site this weekend are being advised to hop on to the Gary Public Transportation Corp.’s Route 22.

The route runs hourly in the Midtown area and includes a stop at 25th Avenue and Jackson Street, which is two blocks from the Jackson family residence at 2300 Jackson St., said GPTC Planning Manager David Wright. The route picks up at the Village via Taft Street.

Broadway Routes 17 and 18, which travel every half hour on Broadway during the week and hourly on Saturday, also stop a few blocks east of the Jackson House. The routes handle transport to Midtown from Downtown Gary to the north end, and Merrillville and Crown Point on the south end.

GPTC route maps are available at Anyone with questions about the Michael Jackson Line to the Tribute Festival may contact GPTC at (219) 884-6100 ext. 0, or send them directly via Twitter to @GaryTransit, or Facebook GPTC or email

Read more at Post Tribune

Gary Renovating Homes On The Jackson’s Block For Three-Day Festival (Audio)

Sources: Chicago CBS Local – By Bob Roberts| All Things Michael

Gov. Mike Pence hammering siding into place at new home being built down the blockfrom Jackson family homestead. (Credit: Bob Roberts)

The sounds of saws and hammers have filled the air this week along the street in Gary where pop idol Michael Jackson grew up in advance of a three-day festival marking his birthday.

Prison inmates and volunteers from the Fuller Center for Housing are building the new home and rehabbing two others down the street. Even Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson wore a blue “I Heart Gary” T-shirt and a carpenter’s apron as she hung siding on the new house being built 100 feet from the Jackson homestead. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence joined her and toured the three homes, all on the 2300 and 2400 blocks of Jackson Street.

“To the extent that we have people visiting, we want to make sure that we have a place that we would want them to visit,” she said.

Pence inspected the work, hung a piece of siding on the new home, at 2332 Jackson St., then met the pop star’s mother, who is in town for the festival, which begins Thursday and runs through Saturday. He’d never met Katherine Jackson, and said talking with her as he sat on the sofa in the living room of 2300 Jackson Street was a “pinch me moment.”

“I said, ‘One of the dreams of my life was to meet your son,’” he said. “But this is pretty close.”

The Jackson family is hosting a three-day festival that begins in the morning, on Jackson Street and at adjacent Roosevelt High School, directly in back of the homestead. While Michael Jackson did not attend Roosevelt, his older brothers did.

The Jackson family has rehabilitated their old homestead, on the southwest corner of 23rd Avenue and Jackson Street, and the home next door, at 2306 Jackson. The family has purchased 2312 Jackson and intends to rehab that home as well, Freeman-Wilson said.

The three-day festival will include live music on two stages, a car show, a dance competition and steppers show, a kids’ pavilion and a petting zoo. Hours are 12 noon until 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Saturday.

Read more and hear audio 

6th Annual MJ Birthday Celebrate Hit The Stage Sunday At Washington Park

Sources: GlocallyNetwork |All Things Michael

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On Sunday, 24th,the Stage was set fro the 6th Annual MJ Birthday celebration.  Interesting note, since his passing, this is the longest running event in Newark celebrating the music of Michael Jackson”King of Pop”, and the longest continuous celebration event in the tri-state area,  The event is alway a special event, said one of the performer in the Look-like Michael impersonators part of the program.  The event has been a tradition for Jessie Daniels of the 80’s band the Forced MD’s. Though best known for the band’s #1 hit, “Love is a House,” its lead singer donned full MJ regalia for Sunday’s event.


From curly wig to glitter socks, Daniels energized the audience with a medley of Michael’s greatest hits. His enthusiasm set the tone for the fiercely competitive “Move Like Mike” contest, which attracted over 20 impersonators, dancers, groups, and singers that had previously participated included local, national and international showcases.

Also notable were the young entertainers in the competition who embodied the enthusiasm of the next generation of Michael fans.

Rivaling the energy and showmanship of the on-stage performers were the throngs of attendees assembled in Washington Park. Whether clad in bedazzled gloves, challenging one another’s moon-walks or simply singing along to their favorite MJ hits, the attendees were just as committed to showing their love and appreciation for Michael’s trademark moves and his contribution to music history. Surely, the famed humanitarian would have been moved by the event’s success in drawing together a crowd so diverse in age, race and cultural background.

Swaying, stomping and sashaying together to MJ’s “Rock with You” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” allowed all of us to indulge once more in what is perhaps the most enduring aspect of Michael’s legacy: the experience of letting the music melt away our differences. For a brief moment, grooving to “The Way You Make Me Feel” made us feel like we were once again in the presence of the King, one of the few places where we could transcend our divisions and dance side by side. Clustered within the expanse of grass and gravel between the Washington Park Light Rail Station and the majestic architecture of the Newark Public Library, we transformed our humble park into a makeshift Neverland ranch that would have made the pop culture legend himself proud.

The closing line-up, was brought home by the voice of John (Skyes) Feva, with band had the audience swaying to the favorite Michael Jackson classic songs.

If you’re kicking yourself for having missed this momentous occasion, “You Are Not Alone.” An encore Michael tribute will be held today during “the W@W Wednesday at Washington Park” music series’ regular lunchtime hours.


Read more here

Writing About Writing About Michael Jackson: What Some Critics Still Get Wrong

Sources: Forbes – By Zack O’Malley Greenburg | All Things Michael


If Michael Jackson were still alive, tomorrow would be his 56th birthday. And though he passed away more than five years ago, fans across the country–from his onetime home of Las Vegas to his birthplace of Gary, Indiana–and around the globe will be celebrating the King of Pop as though he never left.

In many ways, he hasn’t. Songs from his latest posthumous album, Xscape, have been soaring across the summer airwaves. And from a financial perspective, Jackson couldn’t be more alive: he’s raked in over $700 million in the past half-decade–the most lucrative stretch of his career since the late 1980s–and has out-earned every living act measured by FORBES over that span.

Yet amidst this Jacksonian renaissance, a few stubborn narratives persist in corners of the mainstream and tabloid media, even as his image and finances have undergone something of a metamorphosis. That unfortunate reality is one of the more fascinating ones I’ve observed since releasing my book, Michael Jackson, Inc., earlier this summer.

The book has put me in a unique position to observe such trends. Thanks to the magic of the internet—Google alerts and Twitter updates, in particular—I’ve been able to find most of the reviews of the book within hours of their publication.

As a writer, I’ve been mostly pleased with the reactions to Michael Jackson, Inc. It’s been covered by outlets from Billboard to Vibe to the Chicago Tribune. Amazon named it Book of the Month in Business & Leadership and USA Today dubbed it one of “the hottest titles this season,” while Kirkus called it “a useful, informative examination” and Ebony said it “offers a perspective fans around the world may have never seen.”

But in a couple of cases, the reviews barely addressed the book at all; rather, they merely seemed like excuses to rehash old arguments and heap judgment on the King of Pop. Quite a few would be better characterized not as reviews of Michael Jackson, Inc., but of Michael Jackson himself.

For instance, the Wall Street Journal review began with the writer’s opinions of the King of Pop, describing him as “a minor god,” “a tricky deity,” “perhaps a child molester” and so forth (never mind the fact that Jackson was cleared of all charges leveled against him).

The Washington Post, meanwhile, focused on Jackson’s “oddball exploits and alleged crimes,” complaining that the book “leaves out the juicy stuff to focus on the pop icon as a business entity” (despite the fact that delving into the finances of Jackson’s career is the title’s stated purpose).

To be clear: as an author, I’m thrilled that such publications took an interest in my work, and I certainly respect the right of fellow writers to state their opinions, even if I disagree with them. But it amazed me that those refrains still often surround any exploration of Jackson’s life and legacy, even one focused on his finances.

Those sorts of attitudes have been noticed by others who’ve studied Jackson in depth, from my friend Joe Vogel, author of Man in the Music, to the late James Baldwin, who famously wrote:

The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. … He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael. All that noise is about America, as the dishonest custodian of black life and wealth; the blacks, especially males, in America; and the burning, buried American guilt.”

Jackson indeed turned many tables. And though few will deny his eccentricity, his many accomplishments include serving as the Jackie Robinson of the music video era. He forced MTV, once the province of white rockers, to add the work of black artists to heavy rotation, beginning with “Billie Jean.”

By buying the Beatles’ publishing catalogue in 1985, Jackson flipped the paradigm of artist-as-employee on its head, replacing it with the notion of artist-as-owner. He then pioneered new ways of monetizing superstardom, launching his own clothing line, sneakers, video games and more–paving the way for modern celebrity-moguls like Jay Z and Diddy.

Though those narratives are making progress, they haven’t sunk in across all corners of the press. As journalists, we have a duty to push aside subjective notions and focus on the objective truth. In the case of Jackson, it seems for many observers the subjective has settled over the years like sediment at the bottom of an ancient ocean, forming a solid mass still sometimes mistaken for objectivity.

Five years after Jackson’s death, some of those layers seem to have been worn away, judging by the resurgence of his work–his earnings provide unmistakable evidence of a shift. Given his continued impact on global culture and the business of entertainment, it seems likely that trend will continue, but there’s still a ways to go before the objective fully overcomes the subjective.

That’s a good goal to set as a future birthday present for the King of Pop.


Read more at Forbes

TBT: Michael Jackson’s 1989 Vanity Fair Cover – By Annie Leibovitz

Sources: Vanity Fair – By Sarah Schmidt | All Things Michael


Michael Jackson would have turned 56 this Friday. In celebration of his enduring legacy, we’re throwing it back to this iconic photograph by Annie Leibovitz that appeared on Vanity Fair’s December 1989 cover and introduced the 80s’ end-of-the-decade Hall of Fame. The list was a compendium of the Media Decade’s stars, at the top of which was—of course—the King of Pop, photographed in a flowing white shirt that would make American Apparel’s deep Vs look modest. More than a decade later, Jackson topped another chart, when readers voted this issue the best V.F.cover of all.

Read more at Vanity Fair