Sources: Chicago Tribune – By Michelle Quinn | All Things Michael
Surrounded by several friends and members of her family, Jackson matriarch Katherine Jackson held court Friday in the Genesis Center.
In Gary to celebrate the life of her youngest son, the late Michael Jackson, with the sixth annual Michael Jackson I Can’t Stop Loving You charity event, she watched with interest as dancers emulated every step of his best-known routines. The event — also a school-supply giveaway for Gary students — kicks off a weekend devoted to Gary’s most famous native son a week before what would have been his 57th birthday.
Vanessa Pereira, Jasmina Maamesi and Jenny Fulimani, of the Malibu Fan Club from Germany, didn’t sleep a wink upon arrival in the states Thursday. On Friday morning, the trio saw the house in which the Jacksons lived on Jackson Street and couldn’t get over how small it is.
“It’s crazy to see where it all began,” Fulimani said. “How did they all manage?”
Maamesi said she first fell in love with Jackson, the King of Pop, in 1992 during the “Dangerous” tour. She was 12.
“He gave away all his money from that tour and the HIStory tour. That’s really impressive,” she said.
Also traveling a ways was Girl, a Los Angeles-based dance quartet comprised of Morgan Gordy, Leeyah Porter, Maariyah El-Shabazz and Aliah Woodson. The young women were scheduled to go on at 5 p.m. and planned to perform to Jackson’s “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Earth Song” and “Red Bottoms,” an original song by them.
The performance was especially important for the women because they said they were invited by Katherine Jackson.
“She saw us and fell in love with our voices, so she asked us to come out here,” Woodson said. “This is the best opportunity to perform for her and the family. We’re nervous, but we’re more excited and anxious to get up there.”
“He’s one of our all-time favorite singers,” Gordy added.
Johnny Rucker, a member of the Gary Youth Council, worked behind the scenes with the production crew. It was the second time he’s gotten to participate.
“Seeing all these people here from around the country and the world goes to show how loved Michael was. People really idolize him,” Rucker said.
Marvin King and Daniel “Danny J” Sutton, who perform in Atlanta under the moniker Mannish Mania, love coming back to celebrate their hero as well.
“He always gave us hope, that even if you were from Gary, you could make it,” King said.
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