Mary J. Blige Was Inspired By Michael Jackson And Diana Ross’s Role In The Wiz


The Wiz Live!’ airs on Thursday, December 3 at 8pm on NBC. The highly anticipated show is a remake of the 1975 version of the famed Broadway Play The Wiz starring, Stephanie Mills as Dorothy, and the 1978 film version featuring Diana Ross (Dorothy), Michael Jackson (Scarecrow) and Richard Pryor (The Wiz).

Life-long MJ fan and singer Mary J. Blige plays Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West in Live! She pays homage to Jackson and Ross for their role in inspiring her as a child:

The Wiz means so much to me,” professes Mary J Blige. “It changed my life, as a kid in the inner cities it’s hard to believe so when you see Michael Jackson and Diana Ross who are the untouchable entertainers of our time—it kind of makes you believe you can do it too because it’s Michael Jackson—so it just gave me hope; it inspired me; it encouraged me. So to be apart of something that can do the same thing for another generation I couldn’t ask for more in my life.”

Sources: All Things Michael |Vibe 


Sources: Today – By Ree Hines| All Things Michael


Musical fans still have a few months before they have the chance to watch “The Wiz Live!” — the song-and-dance adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz” — but they’re already getting an idea of what’s to come thanks to some big casting news.

On Tuesday, NBC revealed that Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige will take on a couple of major roles.

Latifah, who received rave reviews for her musical maneuvers in 2002’s big-screen version of “Chicago,” will take on the part of the seemingly powerful Wiz. Blige will play the story’s ultimate baddie, the Wicked Witch of the West, aka Evillene.

“Wiz” executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have worked with Latifah several times before (in “Chicago,” 2007’s “Hairspray” and in the 2012 television production of “Steel Magnolias).

“We are so happy reuniting with Latifah,” they said in a press release. “We’ve been friends for a long time and we’ve had quite a lot of success together. To see her play the iconic role of the Wiz and make it her own is going to be one of the joys of producing this event.”

The production duo are also no strangers when it comes to small-screen musicals, as they also worked together on NBC’s 2013 production of “The Sound of Music Live!”

As for Blige, director Kenny Leon said, “I can’t wait to watch Mary bring the badness that is Evillene.”

Of course, the television event won’t be the first time the stage musical has come to the screen. In 1978, Richard Pryor played the Wiz and Mabel King took on the role of the Wicked Witch in a film that also starred Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Lena Horne and Nipsey Russell.

It was recently revealed that Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in first Broadway production of the tale, will take on the role of Auntie Em.

“The Wiz Live!” will air Dec. 3 on NBC.


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Mary J Moves Like MJ

Source: All Things Michael | Fort


On Tuesday night, Mary J. Blige performed at the Samsung Supper Club in Austin, Texas.

During one of the sets, she performed her funky hit, “Just Fine” and incorporated some MJ moves.

Though we don’t have actual footage of her performance, here is a fan made video mash up of Mary and MJ dancing to “Just Fine” and “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” together.  Both songs have the energy of Michael and you can clearly see Mary imitating some of his jubilant moves as well some some of his fashion style.

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Holiday Songs To Lift Your Spirits

Sources: Star Pulse – By Brent Faulkner | Edited By – All Things Michael


Not in the holiday mood?  Has shopping fatigue set in?  Well, take a moment and enjoy some Christmas classics that will not only lift your spirits, but will also put some pep in your step! In addition to the author’s song picks, we have added a few favorites of our own.  Enjoy!

The Jackson 5, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (originally from Christmas Album, 1970)

Was there EVER another version of this? The reasonable, sensible answer is yes, but The Jackson 5’s take on this holiday classic would make the worst Ebenezer Scrooge feel the Christmas spirit.  Young Michael Jackson’s voice shines prodigiously as he reminds us all of what a joyous time Christmastime is.

The Jackson 5, “Give Love On Christmas Day” (originally from Christmas Album, 1970)

The Jacksons were the first to record Berry Gordy’s “Give Love On Christmas Day,” but The Temptations went on to record it for a reconstituted version of their Christmas album a decade later. The debate over the best Motown Christmas album is a two-horse race between J5 and The Temps, but “Give Love” is where the Jackson boys pull ahead. This sweet medley reminds what the season is all about.

Donny Hathaway “This Christmas” (Single release from Atco Records 1970)

It’s just not Christmas until you hear certain songs and this classic is one of them. Since Hathaway recorded his original version, “This Christmas” has become something of a modern holiday standard, covered by a wide range of artists, too many to list here.

Elvis Presley, “Blue Christmas” (originally from Elvis Christmas,1957)

“Blue Christmas” has undoubtedly become noted as Elvis’ classic.  Even though Presley’s version is considered the preeminent version, “Blue Christmas” has roots before the King, as unbelievable as that may be.  Still, is Christmas really Christmas without this memorable classic? Nope, not in the least!

Mariah Carey, “O Holy Night” (Merry Christmas, 1994)

It takes a big voice to deliver on this definitive holiday classic. Not everybody can sing “O Holy Night” – that might be the biggest understatement ever.  Mariah Carey is no ordinary musician – she nails it.

Mary J. Blige featuring The Clark Sisters, “The First Noel” (A Mary Christmas, 2013)

Mary J. Blige and The Clark Sisters “make the church say amen” on this rousing rendition of “The First Noel.”  It begins slow with great poise, but blooms into something greater and more dynamic.  Everyone should be on his or her feet by the end – there’s no excuses – “Born is the king of Israel!”

Andrea Bocelli & Mary J. Blige, “What Child Is This” (My Christmas, 2009)

What happens when you combine two dynamic vocalists together for a duet?  The answer is nothing short of magic.  This recording of “What Child Is This” gives chills with each and every listen.

 Josh Groban, “Ave Maria” (Noel, 2007)

“Ave Maria” has been covered countless times. It’s as standard as standard, classical repertoire comes.  Even if it is no surprise when its performed, pop-opera standout Josh Groban does it its due justice.  Groban’s tone emits warmth, and “Ave Maria” is a piece of music that deserves such.

The Temptations, “Silent Night” (Give Love At Christmas, 1980)

What’s anymore traditional than “Silent Night?”  The answer is “Silent Night.” It’s everybody’s favorite sacred Christmas Carol, hence why it is among the most performed carols of them all.  Many have delivered on this this classic, but among the greatest takes was by none other than soul’s ‘it’ group, The Temptations.  Blue’s bass, Eddie Kendrick’s sick upper register – C-L-A-S-S-I-C, classic!

Pentatonix featuring Tori Kelly, “Winter Wonderland/ Don’t Worry Be Happy” (That’s Christmas To Me, 2014)

Call this a two-for-one, and who doesn’t like a two-for-one? Pentatonix slaughter (in a good way) this rendition of “Winter Wonderland,” giving it the Bobby McFerrin “Don’t Worry Be Happy” treatment.  Awesomeness exemplified as everyone’s favorite a cappella group kills it again.

The Drifters, “White Christmas” (1954)

Although Bing Cosby’s version is the most well known, the Drifter’s version of this classic song by Irving Berlin is quite endearing and has been used in many films. Home Alone prominently featured in the song during a scene in which the lead character Kevin (played by Macaulay Culkin) is applying his father’s aftershave while mouthing the lyrics. The Drifter’s version is also featured in the 1994 films Mixed Nuts and  The Santa Clause.

Andy Williams – “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (The Andy Williams Christmas Album 1963)

The song is a celebration and description of activities associated with the Christmas season, focusing primarily on get-togethers between friends and families. In a 2005 interview, Williams discusses how The Andy Williams Show figured into his recording of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

“George Wyle, who is a vocal director, who wrote all of the choir stuff and all of the duets and trios and things that I did with all the guests, he wrote a song just for the show — I think the second Christmas show we did — called “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. So I did that, you know, every Christmas, and then other people started doing it. And then suddenly it’s become—not suddenly but over 30 years—it’s become a big standard. I think it’s one of the top 10 Christmas songs of all time now.”


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The Top Ten R&B Acts Of The 2000s

Sources: Yahoo | Edited By – All Things Michael

American pop-star Michael Jackson performs during his "HIStory World Tour" concert in Vienna in this file photo

As Usher would say, “Yeah!” The R&B superstar has sold 20.4 million albums since January 2000, a total topped in this time frame by only one R&B artist — the late Michael Jackson. Here are the 10 R&B artists (excluding rap and hip-hop) who have sold the most albums in the 2000s, according to Nielsen SoundScan. (Note: If you were to combine Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child, Queen B would zoom to the top of the list.) – Paul Grein

1. Michael Jackson (23.8 million albums)

Jackson, who died in June 2009, has had two #1 albums on The Billboard 200 since 2000:
Invincible and the soundtrack from the posthumously released Michael Jackson’s This is It. He would have had a third with the hits compilation Number Ones, which was the best-selling album in the U.S. for six weeks following his death, but catalog albums weren’t allowed on the big chart at the time. Jackson received the Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs in 1988. In 1991, the award was renamed in his honor. Jackson was awarded a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy in 2010.

2. Usher (20.4 million)

Usher has landed all four of his #1 albums — Confessions,Here I Stand, Raymond V Raymond, and Looking 4 Myself—since 2000.Confessions is the only non-rap R&B album to sell 10 million copies in the U.S. since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.

3. Alicia Keys (18.4 million)

Keys has sold more albums than any other female solo R&B artist in the 2000s. Also, she has sold more albums than any other R&B artist who made his, her or their debut in the 2000s. Keys has won 15 Grammys since 2000, second only to Beyoncé among (non-rap) R&B artists in this time frame. Keys is one of two artists to win Best New Artist at both the Grammys and the BET Awards. (John Legend is the other.) Keys is one of three R&B artists to have amassed five #1 albums since 2000.

4. Mariah Carey (16.7 million)

Two of Carey’s six #1 albums —
The Emancipation Of Mimiand E=MC2 — have come since 2000. Even so, Carey sold more than twice as many albums (37.7 million) from 1991 through 1999 than she has since 2000.

5. R. Kelly (16.0 million)


Five of R. Kelly’s six #1 albums —, Chocolate Factory, Unfinished Business (a collabo with Jay Z), TP.3 Reloaded, and Double Up — have come since 2000. R. Kelly is the only male R&B artist to have amassed five #1 albums since 2000.

6. Beyoncé (15.5 million)

Beyoncé has won 17 Grammys since 2000, more than any other (non-rap) R&B artist in this period. Beyoncé received a VMA for Video of the Year in 2009 for “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).”
In 2014, she received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs. Beyoncé is second only to Keys as the top-selling R&B artist who made his, her or their debut in the 2000s. (Of course, Beyoncé had huge success with Destiny’s Child before she launched her solo career in 2003.) Beyoncé’s first five solo albums all reached #1. She’s one of three R&B artists to have amassed five #1 albums since 2000.

7. Mary J. Blige (15.4 million)

Three of Blige’s four #1 albums —
Love & Life, The Breakthrough, and Growing Pains — have come since 2000. Blige has lived up to her title as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.

8. Destiny’s Child (15.4 million)

The quartet-turned-trio is the only group or duo to rank among the top 10 R&B acts of the 2000s. The act landed both of its #1 albums — Survivor and the hits compilation #1’s — since 2000.

9. Luther Vandross (11.0 million)

Vandross landed his only #1 album,
Dance With My Father, in June 2003. Vandross won four Grammys for the album, including Song of the Year for the title song (which he co-wrote with Richard Marx). The R&B great died in July 2005 at age 54.

10. Prince (10.9 million)

The Purple One has landed just one of his four #1 albums,
3121, since 2000. Prince received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards in 2010. Prince’s debut album, For You, was released in April 1978. Of the 10 artists on this list, only Michael Jackson made his debut earlier.

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Michael Jackson Featured In June Issue Of Ebony’s Black Music Month Special Tribute


May is Black Music Month and EBONY is celebrating the accomplishments of pioneers in the entertainment field who have paved the way for the game changers in today’s music industry. The article entitled, “Black Music’s Bosses, Legends, and Game Changers”  was written by Kevin Powell. 

“It was an honor to write the four cover stories for EBONY magazine’s Black Music Month special collector’s edition, and to also pen the additional four mini-features inside,” said Powell. “Rarely do you see today’s unstoppable stars like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West and Jay Z packaged with legends like Tina Turner, Donna Summer or Tupac Shakur, but we did it because when it comes to Black music, it is important to note the deep connection between the musicians of yesterday and today.” 

The 25-page, special collector’s issue, has four different covers with Beyonce, Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye as they fall into four categories: “Diva,” “Mogul,” “Rebel,” and “Poet.”

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Artists are spotlighted in comparison such as: Michael Jackson and James Brown, Beyonce and Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye and Usher, Tupac and Kanye, Beyonce and Tina Turner, Prince and Jimi Hendrix, Lauryn Hill and Simone, Mary J. Blige and Billie Holiday and others.


Michael Jackson and James Brown – The Kings (Excerpt)

Take away James Brown and Michael Jackson from American music, and you actually take away generations of artists, musicians, producers, songwriters and a rainbow coalition of fans.

Michael often said  there would have been no him had it not been for James. He didn’t lie. James truly was the first multigenerational Black pop star we ever had. From “Please, Please, Please” in the 1950s to those soulful tracks hip-hop bboys and bgirls went bananas over in the 70s and 80s–hell, to this day –there ain’t a groove or kind of artist JB did not impact. The Godfather of Soul was a singer, songwriter, arranger, bandleader.  In fact, it was his ” I Got That Feelin'” that 10-year-old Michael sang while dancing like his idol for the Jackson 5’s Motown audition, the audition that launched the group.

But if James opened up the mainstream door with his Jim Crow informed Blackness, then Michael blew it off its hinges and didn’t stop until he became the King of Pop. We knew there was something special about the skinny kid.

We got a whiff of how truly special he was when 21-year-old Michael dropped Off The Wall on us in 1979.  But no one could have predicted the impact of Thriller, a singular event in the world’s music history.  The night MJ moonwalked across the stage at Motown’s 25th anniversary celebration in March 1983 as he sang, “Billie Jean,” you just knew something was about to change.

Whereas James was our raw, unapologetic Blackness, Michael  was our unapologetic humanity, Black or White or all the colors in between.

The June issue is on newsstands now.

Source: Ebony Magazine / All Things Michael

Michael Jackson Album Guests Timberlake, Mary J. Blige

Source: MJ-Upbeat & New York Post – By Richard Johnson


Justin Timberlake, Questlove, D’Angelo and Mary J. Blige all guest-star on the new Michael Jackson album, “Xscape,” according to Aaron Reid, who did A&R on the posthumous project.

The album, pieced together with unused music from various recording sessions, will be released May 13. The first single, “Love Never Felt So Good,” drops Thursday.

As for where the songs came from, “Michael Jackson didn’t trust anyone with his music. He stopped finishing songs,” said Aaron, “He had a whole bunch of material stored away. He had hooks. He had verses. Then we put it together.”

Aaron is the 24-year-old son of Epic Records mogul L.A. Reid and R&B singer/music manager Perri “Pebbles” Reid (who, as I reported last week, has filed suit against Viacom over the “defamatory” portrayal of her in a 2013 VH1 movie about girl group TLC, who she once represented). For the Jackson album, he worked closely with his father and executive producer Timbaland, and hired StarGate,

Jerome “Jroc” Harmon and Rodney Jerkins to produce the eight songs. Guitarist Jesse Johnson, best known as a member of the Time, plays on the album.

Critics say Jackson, who died nearly five years ago, didn’t finish the songs because he didn’t think they were good enough. They say the lawyers running Jackson’s estate are just trying to cash in on his enduring fans.

But Aaron said making the album was “an amazing process. Michael Jackson is my favorite artist of all time. With this project, I got to carry on his legacy and even to contribute to it. There’s nothing like it.”



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Relive The 10 Most Iconic Grammys Performances

Source: Huffington Post – April Sperry

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With stars like Taylor Swift, Marc Anthony, Lorde and Dave Grohl on deck to perform at the 56th Grammy Awards, this year’s show is sure to be full of impressive numbers. The Grammys have hosted many different types of performances throughout the years, from tour-worthy, choreographed routines with impressive sets to theatrics-free ballads that stun the audience into silence.

Get ready for the 2014 lineup by reliving the 10 most iconic performances from Grammys past:

Michael Jackson – Man in the Mirror

It’s not surprising that the King of Pop would give a noteworthy performance, but Jackson’s 10-minute 1988 performance of “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Man in the Mirror” was truly memorable. Breaking out many of his legendary dance moves, Jackson belted hit tunes before a rapt audience.

Eric Clapton – Tears in Heaven

Two years after the tragic death of his four-year-old son, Clapton performed a moving rendition of “Tears in Heaven” at the 1993 Grammys. He sang the tune, which reflects upon the grief he encountered in the wake of his son’s death, on a simple and unpretentious stage, letting his voice resonate through the hall. He won six awards on the night of his performance, three of them for “Tears in Heaven.” 

Aretha Franklin – Nessun Dorma

Luciano Pavarotti was slated to perform Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” at the 1998 Grammys, but he canceled at the last minute due to an illness. Franklin stepped in to take over for the famed tenor and sing the stunning “Turnadot” aria accompanied by a full orchestra. Her performance stole the show and undoubtedly made Pavarotti proud.

Eminem and Elton John – Stan

Eminem and Elton John joined forces at the 2001 Grammys with powerful execution of the rapper’s hit song “Stan.” At the time, Eminem was under fire because his album, “The Marshall Mathers LP,” contained homophobic and misogynistic language. John agreed to perform with Eminem at the awards show in order to reinforce the idea that the songs on the album were not representative of Eminem’s true beliefs.

Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil’ Kim and Mya – Lady Marmalade

The quartet of lady singers pulled out all the stops for a performance of “Lady Marmalade” at the 2002 Grammys. With seriously intricate costumes and an elevated stage, they sang a perfectly over-the-top rendition of the “Moulin Rouge” hit. Missy Elliott and Patti LaBelle joined the ladies onstage for the number, adding even more star power to the unforgettable performance.

Mary J. Blige – No More Drama

Mary J. Blige sang her heart out at the 2002 Grammys. She belted out the hit song “No More Drama” without any theatrics, clad in a simple, shimmering suit. The passion and intensity she brought to the performance garnered a standing ovation from the crowd.

Beyoncé and Tina Turner – Proud Mary

Musical icon Tina Turner returned to the stage after a long hiatus to perform “Proud Mary” with Beyonce at the 2008 Grammys. Beyonce introduced Turner as “the Queen,” but the performance proved that they might have to share the crown. An upbeat choreographed number brought together two pop and R&B icons for a particularly exciting rendition of Turner’s song.

Pink – Glitter in the Air

In 2010, Pink performed a showstopping rendition of “Glitter in the Air.” She sang while perilously twirling high above the stage in a Cirque du Soleil-inspired acrobatic routine. In lieu of glitter, her body sprayed water droplets through the air as she spun. Even while upside down and turning in circles, she didn’t miss a single note. Now that’s a performance! 

Adele – Rolling in the Deep

She’s back, baby! After undergoing throat surgery in 2011, fans were left wondering whether Adele would ever regain her soulful voice. She put those fears to rest at the 2012 Grammys with a rendition of “Rolling in the Deep” that proved her voice was recovering quite well. Adele won six awards that evening, making this performance the cherry on top of her ultra-successful sundae.

Jennifer Hudson – I Will Always Love You

When Whitney Houston died the day before the Grammys in 2012, producers called upon Jennifer Hudson to perform a tribute with Houston’s signature song “I Will Always Love You.” Even on such short notice, Hudson was able to pull together a moving rendition of the song that brought audience members to their feet for a much-deserved standing ovation.