Reed Shannon: “I Try To Do My Best To Show Everybody Michael Through Me”

Sources: ABC11.com – By Anthony Wilson | All Things Michael

"Motown The Musical" Opening Night

Reed Shannon is a friendly 14-year-old who just happens to be one of the stars the Broadway show.

Reed plays three roles in the musical. He plays Motown founder Berry Gordy as a child and he plays the young Stevie Wonder. Also, in a particularly memorable performance, he plays Michael Jackson at the start of his career as lead singer for the Jackson Five.

His family says it’s a real thrill to see Reed on stage. He grew up in Wake County, where his theatrical preparation included training at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory. His parents were big fans of the Jackson 5 when they were kids.

“The first LP that I bought with my own newspaper throwing money was “ABC,” said Reed’s dad, Keith Shannon. “I could hit the high notes then, not like Reed can hit ‘em, though!”

He sure can, as anyone who has witnessed Reed’s electrifying performance as Michael Jackson will tell you.

At one point in the production, Reed wears the wide-brimmed purple hat, fringed vest, and bell bottom pants the real Michael sported for the group’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Reed commented on how it feels for the local audience to react to his performance at DPAC so positively.

“Berry Gordy always says ‘The truth is a hit.’ And so I try to do my best to show everybody Michael through me,” Reed said. “And I guess I did good enough!”

Watch Reed in action and it’s clear that he’s really studied Michael Jackson’s moves. His mother told us he’s was into the music and performances of the Jackson 5 long before he was cast in the musical.

“There were parts of Michael Jackson’s moves that Reed had to learn, and so he would go back and look at that clip,” said his mother, Belinda Shannon.

She’s referring to an iconic black and white video that shows young Michael doing the ‘James Brown’ while singing “I Got The Feeling,” recorded for review by Berry Gordy before he signed the Jackson 5.

The family says it’s great to have him back in town after more than a year on the road with the touring company.

“This is the 13th city that we’re in, in one year,” said his dad. “In Detroit, Reed got to be onstage with Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and a lot of the folks who started Motown.”

When complimented on his performance, the humble performer gives credit to his cast mates, including the preteen who shares the roles Reed plays.

“Leon Outlaw, Jr. is his name. He’s 12 years old and he’s from Brooklyn, New York,” Reed explained.

Reed’s playing before sold out crowds at the DPAC on a cold and icy weekend. So, he’s really looking forward to Motown: The Musical’s next stop: Florida.

“Yes, I’m so excited, so excited,” he said with his eyes lighting up. “When we get there on Monday it’s gonna be 83 degrees!”

Motown: The Musical ends on February 22.

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Dance Night Is Not to Be Missed

Sources: Philly.com  – By Kevin Riordan | All Things Michael

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After an hour of rocking the dance floor, Penny Warn takes a break.

“I think people with disabilities have more fun than regular people,” she says, as about 120 developmentally disabled men and women party like it’s not a frigid Thursday evening in February.

Inside Paris Caterers in Berlin Township, the heat is on. Fist-bumps, high-fives, and funky floor moves are the rule. And the hits keep on thumping, thanks to “DJ Dave” Michaels.

“It’s a fun night,” says Robin Rowand, 32, of Pittsgrove. Adds her mother, Susan: “If there was a blizzard, Robin would have to be here. . . . There’s nothing else she’d rather be doing.”

Nine times a year, the Camden County Division of Programming for People With Disabilities holds the dinner-dances. The county offers dozens of other programs for the population, including therapeutic horseback riding, bingo, and arts and crafts.

Statewide, public or private agencies generally provide such programs, says Tom Baffuto, executive director of ARC of New Jersey, adding there are about 200,000 developmentally disabled adults in the state.

“The dances are a wonderful opportunity for them to get together with their peers and have a good time,” says Camden County division director Karen Weidner, who lives in Oaklyn. “Who doesn’t like to dance?”

Rowand and Warn, who’s 51 and has her own apartment in Clementon, are longtime regulars. So are many other partygoers, who arrive with carpooling parents or staff from group homes.

“Because of programs like this, my daughter [Kim] has friends,” says Ronnie Coll, a retired waitress from Lindenwold.

“I’ve wanted my son Shawn to have his own life, separate from me,” says Atco resident Dorothy Smith, noting that Shawn is attending the dance with his girlfriend.

The crowd includes people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond. One fellow sports a tux, another, a dark suit with a tie and pocket square that match his shoes.

Lots of dancers are in red, in honor of the Valentine theme.

Dinner (salad, chicken Parmesan, ice cream with chocolate sauce) is served halfway through the evening, followed by more dancing.

“It’s a way for these adults to socialize like everybody else,” says Michelle Cappello, who coordinates the dances with Judi Franchi.

Like Warn, who has a part-time job at ShopRite, some of the partygoers work and live independently. Others need assistance with simple tasks.

Some dancers twirl, or even leap, with balletic grace, while others take to the floor with rolling walkers.

“I’m having a ball!” a woman in a wheelchair exclaims.

“It’s like a family party, or a wedding reception,” says Michaels, 53, of Washington Township.

He’s been deejaying the dances for years and hands out glow-in-the-dark party favors, such as maracas, to help get things started.

“They love the Electric Slide and all the line dances,” says Michaels, who’s beloved by the crowd.

Oldies, disco, pop . . . the dancers like them all. And Michael Jackson, he says, “is still king.”

“When Michael Jackson died, I cried,” Laura Kline, 32, of Glassboro, tells me.

“We were into Michael Jackson together,” adds her friend Laura Bobco, 32, of Collingswood.

A sequence of Jackson tunes, including “Bad” and “Thriller” fills the floor.

The pure joy of people getting their groove on with friends is palpable. Seems as if everyone in the room is dancing and lip-synching.

“They dance like no one’s watching them,” says Marie Singletary, of Waterford, a businesswoman who brings her older brother to the event.

“They make you smile.”

And when Michaels cues up Pharrell Williams’ megahit “Happy,” I know exactly what she means.

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Footballer Jamie Mackie Pulls Off A Michael Jackson-esque Dance Celebration

Sources: 101 Great Goals | All Things Michael

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Who knew that Reading striker Jamie Mackie had such moves?!

Reading claimed three points on the road on Saturday in the Championship, as they picked up a narrow 1-0 win away at Ipswich.

Jamie Mackie scored the only goal of the game with a long range bobbler that evaded Town’s keeper, and after finding the target Mackie brought out his dance moves.

Looking like a huge fan of Michael Jackson, Mackie dazzled the away supporters with his dancing skills.

Watch match highlights of Reading’s win at Ipswich below.

 

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Illusionist Franz Harary Talks About Magic And Working With Michael

Sources: South Florida – By Nick Sortal | All Things Michael

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Magic’s next frontier is predicated on technology’s next frontier, Franz Harary says.

Harary, who created magic for the Jacksons’ Victory tour in 1984, says, “Magic, by very definition, is anything outside the abilities of technology at the time.”

Electricity, he says, was once considered magic.

“They’d push it into cadavers and ‘bring back the dead,'” says Harary, who will perform Saturday, Feb. 21, as part of the Magic and Music Day street festival at Magic City Casino in Miami.

“As technology moves forward,” he continues, “we have to move forward. Now, levitation is magic, but in France, they’ve already figured out how to levitate animals. So making a girl float in the air isn’t going to mean too much anymore.”

Harary says he has been a magician-illusionist since high school, when for a marching band’s halftime show in Ann Arbor, Mich., he made the trumpet section disappear. By age 19, he had sent a tape to Michael Jackson’s people.

They called back very quickly, he says, and Harary helped plan the Jacksons’ 1984 show, which included an illusion in which Michael Jackson disappeared.

Harary says he and Jackson were friends for 26 years, and he remains upset by the way the pop star’s life ended.

“I saw his whole life take this arc, and I saw everyone around him,” he says. “I remember one time, I said, ‘You might have a problem here.’ But people close to him protected him too much.”

As a tribute, Harary’s current act includes a bit that Jackson made famous when he appeared to be penetrated by 50 spikes. Harary is now the object of the trick.

Harary, 52, has also created special effects for Cher, Usher, NSYNC and Madonna. He is popular in Asia, where a $42 million theater-and-shopping complex called Franz’s House of Magic will open in Macau in September.

He says he’ll spend about a third of this year in Macau, but he’s training six illusionists to continue his shows when he’s back home in Los Angeles.

“They’re younger, skinnier versions of me,” he says.

The schedule for Magic and Music Day also includes:

A free concert at 1 p.m. by Jefferson Starship (“Jane,” “White Rabbit” and “Count On Me”) at Sky 7-37, a small outdoor venue.

A free 5:30 p.m. concert by glam-rockers Sweet and new wavers the Romantics and Naked Eyes at the Magic City Amphitheater.

An 8 p.m. dinner show featuring Harary and 1980s pop star Sheena Easton (“Morning Train [Nine to Five],” “For Your Eyes Only” and “We’ve Got Tonight”) at Stage 305. Tickets cost $125 per person, and include a formal dinner, unlimited wine and beer, and table seating for eight. Call 305-460-6579 or go to MagicCityCasino.com.

A street food festival, with about 25 food trucks, will be outside the casino, 450 NW 37th Ave. in Miami. from noon until 10 p.m.

 

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Five Music Videos That Made The 80s Great

Sources: 93 XRT – By Mollie Olsem| All Things Michael

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By the time MTV premiered in 1981, music videos had already established themselves as a part of American history, but that didn’t stop the new channel from revolutionizing the way music was played on television. Beginning on August 1st, 1981, just after midnight with a voice over speaking “Ladies and Gentleman, rock and roll,” and the Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star,” MTV brought music into homes across the country.  Thanks to MTV, the 1980s saw many incredible music videos that defined the decade’s style.  Here are five of the music videos that made the 80s great:

Thriller by Michael Jackson: Despite a built-in disclaimer about his disbelief in the occult, Michael Jackson’s video for “Thriller” became an instant Halloween classic. The video starts with Jackson, in his red and yellow varsity jacket, and his date walk through the woods at night after running out of gas.  It’s at this point that the full moon appears and the young man transforms into a werewolf (how romantic!). Turns out that it’s just a movie Jackson and his girlfriend are watching. When she leaves in horror, Jackson chases her into the street to calm her down with a song and dance.  The spooky saga continues with some undead zombies and the synchronized dance we all pretend not to know every move of.

Take On Me by A-Ha:  Norwegian synth-pop, pencil sketch animation and a little romance: what’s not to love?  This video was released in 1985 and took home six MTV Video Music Awards the following year.  The video follows a young woman who is pulled into a comic book and away from her coffee by a young, handsome racecar driver.  Together they explore a black and white sketchbook world and evade the driver’s angry opponents, one of which is British actor Philip Jackson. In the end, the girl returns to her world and brings the driver with her.  How well he adjusted to this 3-D world, we’ll never know.

Money for Nothing by Dire Straits: Starting with a shout-out to MTV, the video continues with cutting-edge computer animation of a few guys and their pup watch television and clips of the band performing live.  At the time, Mark Knopfler was not on board with the colorful concept, but MTV was insistent.  After much convincing, Knopfler gave the go-ahead and the computer-animated men and dog were born.  “Money for Nothing” won Video of the Year at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.

Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper: This girl-power anthem  won the 1984 MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video and features Lauper dancing around New York City with her fabulous gal pals.  What’s remarkable about this video is its incredibly low budget and everyone who pitched in to help.  Almost everyone from Lauper’s manager, attourney and brother appear in the video as dancers and extras.  Lorne Michaels even loaned Lauper his new million-dollar digital editing equipment to create the final product. Also remarkable: the fashion.

Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel:  Although the technology was not new at the time, the stop-motion animation in Peter Gabriel’s video for “Sledgehammer” brought the lyrics of the song to life and lead to Gabriel winning nine MTV Video Music Awards in 1987. According to MTV, it quickly became the most played music video in the history of the channel.  It took a large team of animators, including the studio famous for Wallace and Gromit, and required Gabriel to sit under a large sheet of glass for 16 hours, filming one frame at a time.  The video also features Gabriel’s two young daughters, winning him the Coolest Dad of the Year award from daughters everywhere.

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DAKS “Michael Jackson” Style Jackets

Source: All Things Michael |DAKS

DAK’s luxury clothing designers showcased their autumn/winter collection on February 20, 2015 inLondon. The models sported jackets and hats which resembled a chic bikers’ theme, with a 60’s twist.

We couldn’t help but notice that a few jackets resemble Michael Jackson’s famous tailored jackets with the buckles, zippers, ribbed textures and flaps.  Take a look.

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See more styles below:

The Day I Sang On Stage With Michael Jackson

Sources: Young Germany – By Alex Handcock (Published June 26, 2009) | All Things Michael

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On July 11, 1992, Young Germany editor Alex Handcock was picked as one of several children to sing “Heal the World” on stage with Michael Jackson in Cologne. With Jackson’s untimely death, he remembers the day he took to stage with the King of Pop.

The anticipation had been building all week. Our teacher had told us we were going to Cologne to sing at a Michael Jackson concert. Our class talked of nothing else – we were going to sing “Heal the World” with the King of Pop.

Our school – the main English language primary school in the Bonn area – had been chosen as it was a melting pot of different nationalities. We had embassy kids and children whose parents worked for international organizations and multinationals from over the world. Our class was like a United Colors of Benetton ad, so we fit the bill perfectly for the make-the-world-a-better-place message in the “Heal the World” song we were to sing.

I sat on the coach on the way to Cologne as the class sang the “Heal the World” song again and again. I remember not knowing the words. I hadn’t really paid much attention to music up until that point in my life. I was 11 years old and associated music with pesky recorder lessons. Michael Jackson was someone I was only vaguely familiar with. But, by the time we arrived, I knew most of the song.

“Heal The World, Make It A Better Place, For You And For Me, And The Entire Human Race.”

Arriving at the stadium

I spotted the Müngersdorfer Stadium in the distance. The bus was now inching along, carving its way through thousands of fans wandering across the road. Some had big banners. Others were dressed like their idol. And everywhere street vendors were hawking their memorabilia. I gaped out of the window and attempted to process what was going on.

When we pulled up into the backstage area, a hectic-looking man clutching a walkie-talkie greeted our teacher and signaled for us to follow. We snaked through corridors and up stairs, before arriving at a room. There, we were to wait.

When would we meet Michael?

We were in a spacious backstage room. It had several tables, each with piles and piles of chocolate bars. It was an 11-year-old’s dream. We set about attacking the food. I can not remember how much chocolate I ate that day, but such was the impression the chocolate extravaganza made on me, that even today, I can remember thinking that it was a shame we had to leave so much behind.

After what seemed like an eternity the door opened. We were all disappointed. It was not Michael, but instead a business-like lady who explained that we could not all go on stage to sing the song. They would select a dozen or so children and the rest could watch the concert.

“Is there anyone who would prefer to just watch the concert?”

Silence.

So we lined up; and in the cruel fashion we were already familiar with from playground sports, the lady proceeded to pick out the kids she wanted.

“The others were in floods of tears,” my classmate Sarah Jewer recalled.

Getting changed for the concert

Luckily for me, I was one of those chosen and was led away to the dressing room along with the others. There I was informed that I was to represent an American kid and was handed my “American outfit”. I quickly squeezed into my blue jeans, t-shirt and baseball cap attire and nervously looked around at my classmates who were sporting similarly clichéd looks.

When we finally walked out of the room and scurried across a stretch of tarmac towards the back of the stage, I was struck by how big everything seemed. That was small wonder as the Dangerous Tour had equipment weighing over 100 tons. Two Boeing 747 jets and multiple lorries had been required to transport this gear to the venue. Added to that, the sound of the music – even from behind the stage – was deafening. I began to understand what having butterflies in your stomach really meant.

Spotting Michael Jackson

I walked up the stairs with my classmates where we waited in an area to the right of the stage. The roar of the 65,000 sell-out crowd was incredible. We must have arrived in between songs, because suddenly, around 20 meters away, I spotted the man we had all been hoping to meet. Michael Jackson was there standing in the wings talking to what looked to be Macaulay Culkin, the actor from Home Alone. I bounced up and down along with my classmates, pointing and screaming stuff no one could hear over the music anyway.

When Michael Jackson was back on stage, I concentrated on remembering the instructions I had been told. Looking back, it wasn’t rocket science. At the time it required the utmost concentration: “Hold hands with designated partner. Move onto stage. Look forward and not at Michael, smile, and ‘sing’.”

Before I knew it, my classmate was tugging at my hand and we moved out onto the stage. I gazed out at the sea of faces and promptly forgot I was meant to be singing, or mouthing the words. Standing on stage in front of 65,000 people was intimidating to say the least.

My classmate Sarah, just two people removed from Jackson, recalled: “The crowd was mesmerising. Just so many people and so many lights.”

We moved clockwise around a huge inflatable globe; I ignored the “don’t look at Michael” instructions and turned my neck to try and catch a glimpse of the King of Pop. But I was on the wrong side of inflatable Earth to see him properly. My memories are of brief fleeting glimpses. Before I knew it, the song was over and I stumbled off stage glancing back to see the superstar.

We were whisked away, given a T-shirt and headed home. My classmate, who had been holding hands with Jackson, was the center of attention. She ran through a blow by blow account of her experience and pledged never to wash her hand again. I was jealous and exhausted. I fell asleep on the bus, wearing an oversized Dangerous Tour T-shirt.

 

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Audio Interview With Michael Jackson’s Drummer Jonathan Moffett

Sources: WS Radio | All Things Michael

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Jonathan Moffett was Michael Jackson’s touring drummer going all the way back to the Jackson 5 days and has also played for Madonna, George Michael, Elton John, Saturday Night Live and The Arsenio Hall Show. He talks about developing his drumming talent at a very young age, having grown up in a musical family where he and his brothers were encouraged by their father to pick up instruments and start playing together, and how ironically, the drums were not his first choice. Jonathan talks about the importance of recognizing what your natural talent is and nurturing that gift. (Segment 1)

Jonathan talks about learning how to play drums from listening to vinyl records and learning to pick out all the details. He started playing clubs with his brothers when he was only 10, but it made it hard for the band do get into most clubs and bars and his older brothers ended up firing him. Jonathan spent his time practicing and developing a powerful technique of mimicking bass lines on the kick drum, which earned him some notoriety and the nickname “Sugarfoot”.  Jonathan goes on to talk about auditioning for the Jackson 5 in 1979, learning the whole stage show in 3 days and blowing Michael and the Jacksons away with his ability to hear and anticipate where they are going and what to play to complement it. He was told he was the best drummer they ever had and became Michael’s go-to drummer for decades to come. (Segment 2)

Jonathan talks about his faith, the feeling that his whole life God has been watching over him and making things happen. We talk about what he is doing currently – touring with the Cirque du Soleil Michael Jackson Experience, playing with the band Cameo, and writing music for his own solo project. (Segment 3)

 

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