When Penny Met Michael

Sources: Guardian – By Mark Lyndersay | All Things Michael

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When I took this photograph in a small meeting room at the Trinidad Hilton, I’d been taking photographs for just a couple of years, mostly snapshots to accompany my first stories for the press. I’d managed to get into it through my cousin Alfred Aguiton, whose PR firm AMPLE was handling the press relations for the Jacksons visit to T&T.

Michael Jackson had already had one entire career by then, and was on the verge of launching another, steering clear of his brothers and Epic Records to chart his own path as a solo artist.

Janelle “Penny” Commissiong, freshly crowned Miss Universe, was staying at the hotel and was invited down to meet the performers.

So for around a half an hour, the most beautiful woman in the universe, the King of Pop and I were all in the same room and I was the only one with a camera.

The resulting photographs changed my life, and I became known as a photographer after that. I wrote a story about the Jacksons’ visit for Owen Baptiste’s People Magazine, learned some hard lessons about negotiating for the value of my photographs from the Epic Records PR team and for the first time, my photographs were published internationally.

I still have the negatives from that shoot, along with all the positives.

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Captain EO Returns To EPCOT

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The sneak preview of Pixar’s “Inside Out” is gone from EPCOT’s Imagination pavilion. As of July 2nd, the Captain EO tribute performance was back. That’s good news for fans of the collaboration between Francis Coppola and George Lucas.

In 2010, Disney brought Captain EO back as a tribute to Michael Jackson after his death in 2009. Earlier this year, the show was once again put on hiatus to make way for previews of Disney’s “Tomorrowland” and Pixar’s “Inside Out.”

Hopefully they gave the theater a little TLC during the latest transition. When I was there for the “Tomorrowland” preview, I noticed that some of the infrastructure for in-theater effects had been removed (such as the water spray from the seats). Plus the earlier revival did not include the in-theater laser or starfield effects. Let’s bring those back.

I’m happy that Captain EO is back, but Disney really needs to come up with a new plan for the Imagination Pavilion. The idea of a 4D theater is not a bad one, but how its being utilized right now is not up to the standards of modern Disney Imagineering. Really that goes for the whole pavilion.

Will you go see Captain EO now that he’s returned again to EPCOT?

Sources: The Disney Blog – By John Frost | All Things Michael

Bruno Mars Performs Music Medley At White House Concert For Military Families

Sources: PopCrush – By Emily Tan| All Things Michael

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Bruno Mars spent his 4th of July by playing a lively gig at the White House yesterday.

As part of President Barack Obama’s festivities for this weekend, the “Locked Out of Heaven” crooner entertained the crowd on the South Lawn in Washington, D.C. with a medley of songs that brought everyone back to the hits of the 80s and 90s.

“Thank you so much, you guys, for celebrating with us today,” Bruno said before hopping into his set. “But it wasn’t too long ago that we were playing bars and pubs […] in L.A., trying to make a buck. So now that we’re on the lawn, we just feel like doing something, do you mind if we just do what we used to do like six years ago?”

Before going down the musical memory lane, he added, “We’re just going to jam out. This is what we’re going to do.”

He and his band covered Led Zepplin “Whole Lotta Love,” The Outfield’s “Your Love,” Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison,” Montell Jordan’s “This is How We Do It,” Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step,” and Michael Jackson‘s “Rock With You.” After the medley, Bruno then hopped into an extended version of his song, “Runaway Baby,” off his 2010 album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans.

After performing a packed set of upbeat songs, Bruno introduced Barack and Michelle Obama who greeted the guests and inspired the crowd. You can see the president’s speech here.

Before the performance, Bruno and his crew had a little photo shoot in front of the White House where they did two of today’s popular dances, the Whip and the Nae Nae.

Read More: PopCrush

 

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Tyrone Lee Talks About Touring With Thriller Live And His Album

Sources: The Stage – By Georgia Snow| All Things Michael

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Since joining the musical Thriller Live in 2009, Tyrone Lee has toured the show to more than 20 countries and is currently a resident lead vocalist in the West End cast. He has also released his debut album, Invitation.

Why do you think the show has enjoyed such long-term success?

I think people love the music, and the show aims to give people that Michael Jackson feeling. The fans of Michael Jackson can come to the show and feel that essence of what he was about. A lot of people come back again and again. Then there are lots of people that want to go for a good night out. In both cases I think Thriller delivers that.

How does your music background fit in with the show?

The way that this particular production is done, it is quite like a concert. In fact, it is more a concert show than a stage play, so my background as a singer fits in quite nicely. We are encouraged to perform and have our own personality, not to really try to copy Michael Jackson but be ourselves. The dance element was completely new to me. When I got the part my sister warned me that I would have to dance, but I had no idea. The producers kept saying it would be fine so I guess they had more confidence in me. Over the years I have grown into the dancer they wanted, I think – I got there eventually.

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What other kind of work have you done in your career?

I like having the balance between different types of jobs. I have released an album as a solo artist, as well as doing Thriller and touring with other artists. I find that quite refreshing. I’ll go from singing with Thriller to being on tour with Blur, go back to Thriller and then tour with Emeli Sande. I have done really contrasting jobs in that respect and I appreciate the different disciplines. On a conventional music stage there is quite a lot of improvisation and you are encouraged to pull out new creative aspects, but with Thriller it is quite disciplined. It is good to go back and forth.

Has working in theatre influenced other parts of your career?

As well as singing and dancing, I do a lot of narration in the show. In that regard it helps me engage with the audience and speak to them. In my own shows it has built that confidence to address my audience and give some information about myself, or just speak to them. That has been really helpful.

Would you like perform in other stage shows in the future?

I have always looked up to singers, like Michael Jackson, that really perform their music. I never thought of myself as a theatre performer and when the Thriller production came around it was something very new to me – I didn’t know what to expect. Now that I have done this, it has opened my eyes to the possibility of doing more theatre. I have definitely learnt a thing or two from this.

Thriller Live is running at the Lyric Theatre. The album, Invitation, is available now.

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STEVIE ON AMY, MICHAEL JACKSON AND TWO ALBUM PROJECTS

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Stevie Wonder has been talking in a press interview about Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson and the two album projects he’s currently working on.

The Motown legend played at Summerfest in Milwaukee on June 27 and gave an interview to the city’s Journal Sentinel. In it, he addressed the fact that the last time he was in Milwaukee was a few days after Jackson’s death in 2009, and widened the conversation to include other great musicians we lost too soon.

“The pain outside of the fact that [he and Michael] were friends was how much he gave to the world,” said Stevie. “And even though we weren’t friends, it was the same with Amy Winehouse. At the end of the day, we know that life is not forever, in this form, on this earth. But we know that love is forever. And we are inspired and encouraged and we live forever when we love.

“When we hear Michael sing or Amy or John Lennon or Marvin Gaye and on and on and on, we think of a moment that happens, a joy a particular song brought us, and that makes us think of love. So I think we should just shine a light of positivity, and it’s an honor to have the opportunity to speak to those voices that are never heard, and to speak to musicians and poets and writers. In our own way, we as communicators are having the honor of creating something everlasting.”

Wonder also spoke about his long-in-the-works gospel-themed album, and another less-reported project. “I’m working on a gospel project that I promised my mother I would do,” he says. “Before she passed away [in 2006], we were working on some music. It’s called ‘Gospel Inspired by Lula.’ I’m hoping to release it soon, maybe between now and Mother’s Day next year [in May].

“It’s different in that it’s not any particular religion, but about a relationship with God. So I might do a song in Arabic, as well as some traditional stuff. It’s going to be fun because she wanted me to do this, so I will have fulfilled my promise, but also my promise to God that I would do a project celebrating God’s goodness.

“And the other studio thing that I’m working on is ‘Through the Eyes of Wonder,’ where myself and David Foster are working on this thing where we use some of the musicians from the symphony orchestra in London.”

 

Sources: U Discover Music | All Things Michael

Music Streaming 2015: “The Days of Huge Album Sales Are Behind Us”

Sources: 27/7 WallStreet – By Paul Ausick | All Things Michael

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Music demand is higher than ever. In the first six months of 2015, U.S. music fans streamed 135 billion songs and music videos, nearly double the total streamed in the first half of 2014.

The news is less good for sales. According to the latest report from Nielsen, song sales dropped 10.4% to 531.6 million and album sales dropped 4.0% to 116 million units.

None of the streams in the Nielsen study went to Apple Inc. and its new Apple Music service, so when the researchers produce their report for the second half of the year, we’ll get a pretty good idea of how successful Apple Music has been.

After the spat with Taylor Swift, Apple gets to stream her hit album “1989,” but that may not be a big bonus. Re/Code noted that songs from that album were streamed just 188,213 times in the first half of the year. The album sold just 1.33 million copies, and if you add album equivalent units from single sales, the album sold an equivalent of around 2 million units. The album needs to increase that by a factor of 10 to join the ranks of the 50 top-selling albums of all time. Then sales need to increase by another factor of five to reach the number one spot, now held by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” from 1982.

Does anyone really think that “1989” will sell even 21 million records and join Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” from 1984 at 50th on the list? The point is not that Swift’s album is not musically as good as Jackson’s or Madonna’s, but that the business is different, and by 2045, “1989” is not likely to reach even 10 million in total sales. The days of huge album sales are behind us.

When Swift pulled her catalog from Spotify late last year, Nielsen commented that fans willing to purchase music missing from online services are more likely to buy just one or two songs rather than the entire album.

According to the Nielsen report, only Swift’s album sold more than a million actual copies in the first half of 2015. Only five other albums sold more than 1 million album-equivalent units, according to Billboard.

Apple’s iTunes gets a lot of the credit (or blame) for the demise of the album and the boom in singles sales, but can Apple Music translate the iTunes success into subscription revenue for the streaming service? When the Nielsen report for the second half of 2015 comes out we will know more.

 

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MJ Tribute Band Foreverland To Perform At Monteray’s Independence’s Day Celebration

Sources: Monterey County Weekly – By Adam Joseph | All Things Michael

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Monterey has a new Independence Day tradition that’s as explosive as fireworks: a 14-piece Michael Jackson celebration. Last year, tribute group Foreverland tore through epic renditions of the King of Pop’s biggest hits, from “Billie Jean” to “Beat It.” This year, the MJ big band returns to Monterey’s Fourth of July celebration at Colton Hall.

Here’s more about Foreverland, plus some other options for good listening on Independence Day:

In 2004, Foreverland singer Lisa Leuschner competed on American Idol. Judge Randy Jackson said she had the best voice in the competition that season. Though she didn’t make the finals, she still views the experience as a win, because it inspired her to improve, and to make music her full-time career. Also, being one of the final 14 on Idol foreshadowed Leuschner’s future role in the 14-piece Foreverland.

But the group wasn’t always massive. The outfit began as a foursome, before the original members decided to recreate Jackson’s music without any pre-recordings or samples. Now Foreverland has the resources to tackle the icon’s vast repertoire, from the Halloween-inspired favorite “Thriller” to the mellow ballad “Rock with You” to the old-school Jackson 5 catalog.

“We’re not an impersonation of Michael Jackson’s music,” says Foreverland singer Lisa Leuschner. “We’re a celebration.”

Before Foreverland’s 3pm spectacle, the music kicks off at 11am with the 2015 Monterey County High School Battle of the Bands winner Operation Rock, who unload a mix of blues-rock originals and classic rock covers. At noon, Pop Fiction! unleashes a set spanning six decades of popular rock, R&B and dance music. Locked-N-Loaded follow at 1:30pm with country hits, ranging from Patsy to Merle.

 

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The ‘Michael Jackson’ Of Cotton Candy [Watch]

Sources: The Inquisitr | All Things Michael

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David Shtorm is a man who makes cotton candy like you’ve possibly never seen. It’s not so much the candy making that keeps your attention. It’s his creativity.

David Shtorm could simply be the “Michael Jackson” of the cotton candy game. While keeping the attention of kids and adults, he also keeps an amazing groove and dance number. He’s called “Candy King.”

While you may think Shtorm could be from the United States, he actually hails from Sochi, Russia, according to his Facebook profile. At the moment, David has 4,258 friends and 1,267 followers. Obviously, he’s accepted so many friend requests that the rest have filtered over into that “following” reserve.

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Though cotton candy is a great treat, who knew it could be such an attention-grabber? And he has a manager named Alexander. It appears that they create orders worldwide.

David Shtorm seems to be an internet sensation and celebrity. If you were to visit his Facebook profile, you would see several people down his timeline sending cotton candy requests. They just want it to be made by the guy. Speaking of celebrities, he’s met a few of them, including but not limited to Jason Derulo.

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So, how do you feel about David Shtorm? Is he the “Candy King“? Does he live up to his title?

 

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