In Honor Of Michael Jackson’s 58th Birthday

On August 29, 1958, a genius prodigy was born in a little town in Indiana called Gary.  

At the time, Nobody could have guessed that the sweet little angel bundled in his mother’s loving arms was destined to be known all around the world.

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As he grew in knowledge and favor among his peers and family, people began to take notice of the precocious, little youngster, who first became a Dancing Machine to the rickety sound of the family’s old washer.

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Words could not describe the Pride and Joy his mother felt the first time she fully realized the gift that he had when she heard his endearing voice singing in front of an audience at the tender age of five.

As he became the lead singer of the Jackson 5, the sweet Melodie of his voice and his natural charms quickly won the hearts of people. They marveled at his talent and ability to convey such depth of emotion in song. He was an old soul beyond his time and had just as much command of the stage as his idols James Brown and Jackie Wilson.

The Jackson’s immediately shot to fame quicker than anyone could have imagined. Some would even say it was Much Too Soon for a child so young to be a veteran of the stage by the time he was 10.

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Then one day, Destiny started to call his name and he felt the pull to answer the call.

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He loved his family dearly, but his heart was leading him in another path. As his faith grew, so did his motivation. He set a written plan in motion and followed it to the letter.

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MJ’s 1979 Manifesto

He began Workin’ Day and Night to create a new image and new music like the world had never seen.

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Though many thought his career was over after the Jackson’s, he proved them wrong. His albums and short films were one Thriller after another. He could do it all and better than those who came before him. He became a producer, songwriter, actor, director, inventor, artist, businessman, humanitarian, philanthropist, innovator and trendsetter. Everything he touched seemed to turn to gold.

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The excitement and the flurry that his dancing, singing and bigger than life presence shot his fame out of orbit to a level of celebrity popularity like we have never seen. He drove all his fans to a frenzy: young and old, male and female.

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Many times, the Price of Fame would prove to be many times painful. Though he could not always find a place to Xscape, he never let his personal pain stop him from using his hard earned success to help others and to raise our consciousness about the social issues that troubled him. His heart was even bigger than his fame and whatever he set out to do, he did it with much passion and conviction. He taught us to look at the Man in the Mirror and be the change that we want to see in the world.

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Though Michael is no longer with us in the present, his spirit lives through his monumental artistic achievements and humanitarian efforts.

Those of us who were blessed to witness his rise and incarnation as the King of Pop, will always Remember the Time when a Michael Jackson song has been associated to a special memory or event in our lives.  The relevance and joy of his musical body of work will never be forgotten, nor can we ever forget the extraordinary man that he was and the principles he stood for.

Michael, we thank you for all that you have done for your fans and for all mankind.

We will always love and miss you.

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WITH LOVE,

 FROM ALL THINGS MICHAEL

 

Committee Wants Gary To Better Utitlize Its Connection To The Jacksons

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Some Gary residents are attempting to create excitement around a series of events honoring favorite son Michael Jackson and his family.

They’re asking others, including the city, to get involved in something positive for a city that’s seen better days, WBBM’s Mike Krauser reports.

The Jacksons are “the greatest entertainment family the world has ever seen,” says activist Kwabena Rasuli. “Let’s utilize it, let’s benefit from it.”

Rasuli says the Jacksons could do for Gary what Elvis has done for Memphis and generate millions.

Locals say a steady influx of tourists come to 2300 Jackson Street, the small house where the Jackson family started their career in music.

Gordon Keith, who early on signed the Jacksons to his Steel Town Records label, says the family said they would never forget their roots in northwest Indiana.

“I’m still waiting on them to keep that promise,” Keith says.

For more information about the Committee To Honor The Jacksons In Gary, go to the group’s Facebook page.

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Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello ‘Burst Into Tears’ While Visiting Michael Jackson’s Childhood Home

Sources: Billboard – By Ashely Lasimone | All Things Michael

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On a day off between scheduled concerts in Milwaukee and Buffalo, N.Y., Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello had the opportunity to tour the Gary, Ind., home in which Michael Jackson was raised. According to a series of tweets from Cabello, the experience deeply moved the singer — and it led to her writing words of encouragement to her two million Twitter followers.

Jackson’s childhood home is a small two-bedroom house where he lived with his parents and siblings before finding success with the Jackson 5 and as a solo artist.

“Needless to say I burst into tears,” she revealed of her visit to the King of Pop’s original home, before posting a set of inspired tweets telling fans that “you can be who you want to be if you work hard enough.”

Cabello — who was born in Cuba before moving to the U.S. and eventually making it onto The X Factor, where Fifth Harmony was formed — said that she can relate to kids who “don’t think they have a real shot at their dreams because of the circumstances.”

“I thought I didn’t have a shot — no money, no connections, no hope, nothing,” she wrote.

See Cabello’s full message below, as well as tweets from Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke Hernandez, who said “it was one of the most surreal, chilling & beautiful experiences.”

 

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Dancers, Singers, Fans And Family Tribute Michael Jackson In Gary For Charity Event

Sources: Chicago Tribune – By Michelle Quinn | All Things Michael

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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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KATHERINE JACKSON PRESENTS “I CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU” CHARITY WEEKEND IN HONOR OF MICHAEL JACKSON

Sources: Icantstoplovingu | All Things Michael

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LET THE COUNTDOWN BEGIN!!!!

Please Join Mrs. Katherine Jackson  as she continues the legacy of her son, “The King Of Pop” Michael Jackson, at her 6th Annual “Michael Jackson Charity,” giving back to the children of Gary, Indiana.  www.Katherinejackson.org This will be a fun filled 2-day charity event, starting at noon each day, August 21- ­22, 2015.

On August 21, the opening ceremony will begin with the Mayor and the Governor of Indiana. The Roosevelt High School Marching Band and choir will perform. There will also be a Michael Jackson dance contest, with a 1st place prize of $5,000.00!!

This event is free for all ages. There will be…

Free hair cuts,

Free concerts on both days

Celebrity Beauty Bar

Free food and drinks

Face painting

Fiveaways

Jumpers

Celebrity Meet and Greet

Arcade Center

Car Show

Basketball Shooting Contest

Dance Contest

Local Vendors And Much More!!!!!

Join us as Mrs. Jackson gives back to the children of Gary, Indiana by sending them back to school  with the necessary supplies. Giveaways include….. BACK PACKS, IPADS,  SCHOOL SUPPLIES, COMPUTERS,  SHOES, HEAD PHONES, CLOTHING and CELL PHONES.

 

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Six Years After Michael Jackson’s Death, Gary’s Jackson Street On Upswing

Sources: Chicago Tribune – By Christin Lance| All Things Michael

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Thursday marks six years since the unexpected death of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, whose infectious music and polarizing fame reverberated across the globe.

But before he became famous as the pint-sized frontman of the Jackson 5, he was the third youngest of nine Jackson children raised in a small, two-bedroom, white frame house at 2300 Jackson Street in Gary.

“I just wonder how did they fit all of those kids in there,” said Fredericksburg, Va., resident Caterah Mayfield, who was visiting Tuesday with her mom, sister and cousin.

Mayfield’s mom, Courtney Parker, said Jackson’s death — of cardiac arrest at age 50 — is still shocking.

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” Parker said. “It was just like Whitney (Houston); they’re gone too soon.”

The house has become a draw for Jackson’s fans, who flock to it to leave flowers and teddy bears around the anniversary of his death or to write a message on the One Way sign at the corner. In 2009, thousands of fans paying tribute trampled the grass, but since installing a granite monument to Jackson in the front yard, it has been fenced off, and beautiful flowers are in bloom every summer.

The family is helping to revitalize the neighborhood by purchasing and renovating the house next door to 2300 Jackson and another home across the street, said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. The house next door is now a small museum/gift shop that the family is expected to open soon.

They’ve supported the Jackson Street of Dreams project that has rehabilitated two homes and rebuilt another house in the 2300 and 2400 blocks of Jackson Street. The project is being led by the Fuller Center for Housing in Gary, with assistance from the city, the Indiana Department of Correction, NIPSCO, Centier Bank and others. The Fuller Center has a goal of rebuilding eight additional homes in the neighborhood in 2016, but they are currently working to secure the necessary funds.

“We are exploring the next steps to see who may be willing to fund rehabbing some other homes,” Freeman-Wilson said.

Robin Copeland, who lives in the neighborhood, said it’s fun to chat with visitors and take pictures for them. She’s hopeful that the Street of Dreams project will help the neighborhood thrive.

“It’ll be a good thing for Gary and it will help the neighborhood look way better,” Copeland said.

But beyond the house and an annual Michael Jackson festival in August, there aren’t many signs marking Jackson’s impact around the city.

Even before Jackson’s death, there was talk about the city having a museum or performing arts center to memorialize arguably its most famous son. Jackson mentioned the performing arts center idea when he last visited Gary in 2003, but talks stalled when he was charged with child molestation soon afterward in California.

Jackson’s father, Joe, was in talks with developers about a possible museum and hotel near Grant Street and the Borman Expressway. But those plans never went much of anywhere either.

Freeman-Wilson said the city hasn’t been actively involved about bringing a Michael Jackson museum to Gary because “that’s not a project the city can undertake.” But a private entity did speak to her a few years ago about a Jackson-related project, she said.

“But whenever we would ask, ‘What’s the involvement of the Jackson family?’ nobody seemed to know the answer,” Freeman-Wilson said. “By that time I had developed a rapport with Mrs. (Katherine) Jackson, and I found that the family hadn’t been consulted, so I knew not to take these people seriously.”

 

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Indiana Music And Entertainment Museum Offers Free Event

Sources: Indianapolis Reporter – By Leslie Fuller | All Things Michael

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From Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 in Gary, to Wes Montgomery in Indianapolis, to WICR-FM’s broadcasting legend Chuck Workman, the Hoosier State boasts some amazing legends in its music, film and broadcast history.

Now, a group of veteran entertainment authors, collectors and historians is launching The Indiana Museum of Music and Entertainment (IMEM), featuring Indiana’s contributions to music, film and broadcast history.

IMEM, an Indiana non-profit organization founded in 2014, expects to establish a permanent brick and mortar location for this endeavor once funds are available, allowing visitors to listen to, view and discover Indiana music, film and broadcasting history.

The museum will also be focused documenting, displaying and preserving artifacts and educating Hoosiers about the state’s rich entertainment history. The launch of the project is Saturday, April 4 from 6-10 p.m. at the Wheeler Arts Theater, 1035 Sanders St., in Indianapolis’ Fountain Square neighborhood.

Visitors can browse exhibits and meet Indiana authors, exhibitors, founders of IMEM and enjoy live music from jazz musician Clifford Ratliff and Friends, Tim Wright (Wright Brothers) and Karen Irwin; and Cathy Morris. It was recently announced that veteran Hoosier broadcaster Jimmy Mack will attend.

Participating authors include: David Fulton, Naptown Rock Radio Wars, Larry Goshen, Let The Good Times Roll, David Humphrey, All Those Years Ago, Monika Herzig, David Baker – A Life in Music, David Williams,Indianapolis Jazz, and Julie Young, Famous Faces of WTTV.

Exhibitors will include: Tom Fontaine with rare memorabilia and film from both The Beatles 1964 Indiana State Fair performance and Elvis Presley’s last concert at Market Square Arena; Larry Goshen with early Indiana rock and jazz memorabilia; John Rabold with radio and TV memorabilia (including WTTV’s former production console); and Rick Wilkerson with rare Indiana records, posters and concert flyers.

Full disclosure: this reporter has friendships with many of the organizers.

Admission is free. Patrons will have an opportunity to learn more about the museum’s future plans and become involved in helping the mission of IMEM become a reality. Sponsors include the House of Blue Lights, Irvington Vinyl, Arthur’s Music Store, Flanner and Buchanan, and Musical Family Tree.

For more, visit www.imemindiana.org

 

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Michael In The Mirror: Gary MJ Tribute Artist CJ Williams Dances, Sings And Gives Back

Sources: NWI.com – By Vanessa Renderman| All Things Michael

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Impersonating one of the most famous entertainers of all time is more than wearing a lookalike signature sequined glove and pairing white socks with black pants and shoes.

It’s no surprise that a city so tied to The Jackson 5 would churn out people who want to imitate the family’s brightest star, Michael Jackson.

For fellow Gary native CJ Williams, being a Michael Jackson tribute artist is not about mimicking the spins and splits. It’s about paying homage to the King of Pop.

“I don’t copy Michael 100 percent,” Williams said. “It’s me, changing. A metamorphosis. When people get on stage, they want to play Michael. That makes me mad. You’re imitating an icon.”

Williams, who took third place at a recent talent contest in Gary coinciding with the anniversary of Jackson’s birthday, has spent 12 years as an impersonator.

He has performed in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Ohio and has plans to take his show farther.

“I’m serious about what I do,” he said. “My outfits are authentic. I have light-up costumes. When I come out there, I come out there ready to perform. There’s no games about that.”

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Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts and is an executive chef by trade, but his full-time dedication is to his Jackson impersonation and to his growing entertainment company, which includes a team of dancers, singers and security.

Michael Jackson tribute artist CJ Williams, third from left, along with security team member Donald Gerlad, far left, promoter Merrill Kikkert, second from left, and security team member Carl Brandon hang out at Williams' home. Williams spends most of his time with members of his security team and his promoter. He considers them family.

Michael Jackson tribute artist CJ Williams, third from left, along with security team member Donald Gerlad, far left, promoter Merrill Kikkert, second from left, and security team member Carl Brandon hang out at Williams’ home. Williams spends most of his time with members of his security team and his promoter. He considers them family.

Although he now lives mostly in the Crown Point area, the 32-year-old grew up on the east side of Gary, the youngest of eight children.

“It was a pretty simple life,” he said.

Raised a Jackson fan, Williams remembers dancing to the famous family’s music when he was 5.

“I told my mom, ‘I want to be just like Michael Jackson,'” he said.

Years later, his cousin was impersonating Jackson, which piqued Williams’ interest.

“He said, ‘You’re about his height, weight. And you look like 1985 Michael,'” Williams recalled.

Williams studied Jackson’s moves and vocals for five years and started impersonating.

“I sing,” he said. “I’ve done a track where everyone thinks it’s Michael Jackson, but it’s really me. Everything came natural to me.”

If his empire grows into a money maker, Williams wants to build a homeless shelter and give back to his church. He already has influenced the life of Merrill Kikkert.

Kikkert is Williams’ publicist. They met at a flea market in Gary.

“At first, I thought he was a Jehovah’s Witness,” Kikkert said. “Turns out, he was a Michael Jackson impersonator.”

He told Williams about his life and his struggles.

“He pretty much took me in as a big brother and a dad,” Kikkert said. “We just became very close.”

Raised primarily in Hobart, Kikkert manages the day-to-day schedule and the bills.

“I do a lot of the wardrobe organizing,” Kikkert said.

Williams’ wardrobe sets him apart from other Jackson impersonators.

“I don’t think any other Michael Jackson impersonator out there can touch his wardrobe,” Kikkert said. “He brings his own style. He puts his little touch to it. CJ is one of a kind. A lot of his outfits, his aunt makes him, and he puts his sparkling touch to it.”

The attire is extensive, from the costumes to the wigs and gloves.

“We don’t even have enough room for his wardrobe,” Kikkert said.

Williams’ favorite song to perform and favorite costume are for his rendition of, “Man in the Mirror,” a song about helping others and making a difference in the world.

“When I do, ‘Man in the Mirror,’ I have a mirrored jacket, hat and shoes,” he said.

The stage lights flip on and hit the head-to-toe mirrors for an intense effect.

Williams’ home is filled with hats, wigs, photos, album covers, memorabilia and costumes that catch the light with mirrors and sequin details.

Michael Jackson albums and photographs line a hallway in the home of tribute artist CJ Williams.

Michael Jackson albums and photographs line a hallway in the home of tribute artist CJ Williams.

The fans go nuts for it. They cry and ask for autographs, Williams said.

He thrives on the energy at showtime and of seeing the reaction from fans.

“I want people, when they leave my show, feeling love, feeling peace, no hatred in their heart,” he said. “This society is so judgmental.”

Williams will perform in Paris in six or seven months and possibly Japan and Asia. In five to 10 years, Kikkert expects to see Williams’ name in lights in Hollywood, he said.

“We are definitely not going to forget where we came from,” Kikkert said.

 

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