“Those with talent are people kissed by God.”
A pioneer is one who originates a new line of thought. A vanguard is one
at the forefront of a movement.
When asked how he would like history to portray him, Michael answered, ” I think as someone who has been given the ability and talent to do what I do, to heighten the awareness of peace and love, and the plight of children worldwide onto a universal level. It’s been created through song, dance and film…I guess that’s my mission and I’m happy to have been chosen.”
Quite simply, Michael Jackson is the greatest performer in music history. That being said, the definition of performance in Michael’s world included layer upon layer of a tapestry so complicated and so intricate that it is the standard aspired to by all other artists. In the words of the New York Times, “There’s Michael Jackson and then there’s everybody else.” As a songwriter, as a vocalist, as a musician, as a dancer, as a performer, as a storyteller…his creative and imaginative thought processes soared into unknown territories, always reaching, never satisfied, never complacent…NEVER SETTLING. What he heard in his mind, what he channeled from beyond stretched into every aspect of artistry. Melodies, rhythms, lyrics, soundscapes led to fantastical imagery…that led to completed compositions which told stories informing short films. Sounds led to body movements…a body intelligence that surpassed even the mind (Susan Fast). Images of style led to wearable art. Music, dance and set design images created theatre. For Michael, music as tapestry included recorded performance, short film performance, dance performance, live performance, public appearance performance. The overarching thread to Michael’s work is a persistent dissatisfaction with the world the way it is…and, an attempt to provide some kind of escape, liberation and transformation as an antidote. His goal is to reveal the struggle and also a connection…music would help to heal, bringing people all over the world together. Activism was the answer. A collective energy of pure love could change the world. (Joseph Vogel & Jude Ling) “Each concert was a precise ritual, with Michael as the master of ceremonies. He was so emphatic and in tune with the people that he would need time to soak up the vibrations of the audience before starting. Most people thought nothing of this. They thought it was just sensationalism, but it was much more. Look closely. He jumps out onto the stage, and just stands there, he doesn’t move. He is feeling. He is absorbing. He is feeling everything that is happening around him, the entire range from the peace to the crescendos of the invisible emotions of the entire audience. Only when he is ready and he has a feeling of the audience and where they are at, will he begin. And his precision at conducting pathos is unmatched. He even knows when to cry, and he is genuinely crying. This may seem counterintuitive, but not for Michael. He brings the audience through ups and downs, hysterics, crying, until the end, exhausted, he delivers his final song, which breaks the emotions on the rocks. And, people leave buzzing and emotionally exhausted.” Susan Fast DANGEROUS
“I love to create magic…to put something together that’s so unusual, so unexpected that it blows people’s heads off. Something ahead of the times. Five steps ahead of what people are thinking. So people see it and say, ‘Whoa, I wasn’t expecting that.’ I love surprising people with a present or gift or a stage performance or anything.”
“I am a slave to the rhythm. I am a palette. I just go with the moment. You’ve got to do it that way because if you’re thinking, you’re dead. Performing is not about thinking; it’s about feeling.”
Call it fascination or addiction, the truth is, once immersed in Michael Jackson artistry, we are hooked. He is IRRESISTIBLE. Beyond that, however, underlying each and every layer of performance lies the thing that captures and holds us in sensual embrace, Michael’s unconditional LOVE…a love that is enlightening and empowering…and… sets us free.
THE POWER OF PERFORMANCE
intros~outros~curtain calls~sampling~segway`medley~theatre`stage ownership
Michael Jackson’s intros and outros are legend. He valued them for their opportunities for theatre, drama, anticipation, MAGIC, and powerful messaging. Excitement is wrapped in “what is to come” and “powerful endings”. Originality, surprise, sensuality, illusion, artful drama pour out images that live far beyond the performance. Recorded intros and outros peak the senses and stir thoughts of what is to come, engaging the mind. “Just when you think you understand him, he gives you more.” E. Taylor That quote applies to every aspect of Michael’s life and art. Iconic in Michael’s recorded performances is the listeners insatiable need for more. That comes from the genius and intricacy of both songwriting and recorded experience.
“I have no doubt if Jackson needed music notation, he would have used it, but his own method of recording on multi-tracks was far more efficient and desirable than pencil and paper or music notation software. Reading and writing in musical notation would have been a tremendous liability for a musician like him. As an example, he worked with complex, subtle rhythms that can’t be accurately notated or approximated.” ULTRAVIOLETRAE
“Michael was the most focused musician I’ve ever known, with a supernatural work ethic. He’d do something over and over again until he felt it was perfect. At the same time, he was a warm human being…totally respectful of your time and ideas. He’d often do lyrics with lights out, singing from memory. I don’t recall recording any other artist who didn’t use a lyric sheet in front of them. I also don’t remember him ever showing up late…he was usually early.”
LITTLE SUSIE AND HISTORY: Little Susie is yet another testament to Jackson’s range as an artist. It is a mini-opera. SAMPLING…Michael uses sampling as the INTRO…it is “Pie Jesu” taken from Maurice Durufle’s masterpiece Requiem Op. 9 The interlude features child singer, Markita Prescott, accompanied by a child’s musicbox. This masterpiece is both enchanting and disturbing as the story of a neglected child is told. Michael began working on the song in 1979 and finally released it on his HISTORY album in 1995. Michael’s vocal performance is epic. “If he ever decides to stop being a pop singer, this song is proof he could compose music for movies and seriously win Oscars for it.” Anthony Wynn HISTORY: To give some idea of the ambition of the song, it took over 192 tracks sprawled over four Sony 3348 track digital tapes to contain all the song’s different elements. Michael samples Mussorgsky’s epic ‘Great Gate of Kiev’ from Pictures at an Exhibition as the INTRO. An aural collage is used as part of both the INTRO and OUTRO. (Check out AN EVERLASTING PILGRIMAGE in MICHAELJACKSONCHOSENVOICES for a listing of each element of the aural collage.) INTROS AND OUTROS…LIVE PERFORMANCE: Michael’s Bad World tour established his prowess as a world performer using cutting-edge sound systems and staging…far more elaborate and sophisticated than had ever been used before. “The word ‘superstar’ became meaningless compared to the power and grace pouring from the stage.” L.A. Herald Examiner The use of enormous jumbotrons set the standard for all stage performances thereafter. Using a giant light screen backstage, Michael’s INTRO established his ICONIC feet doing the moonwalk…all in light. As the show opened, the ginormous airport runway lights came on, mega speakers filled with ‘noise’ and Michael’s lighted figure danced the moonwalk on the backstage screen. Then, the floor of the stage opens with huge lights reaching out into the audience. When it closes, the figures of Michael and four dancers appear. Tell me that doesn’t get your heart racing. ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’ opens the show. Michael’s CURTAIN CALL follows his performance of ‘Bad’ concluding with Michael dancing around each member of the band as he introduces them. He then invites a cast of children to join the dance. MAN IN THE MIRROR is Michael’s emotional and brilliant OUTRO. DANGEROUS WORLD TOUR: The ‘toaster’ was introduced on the Dangerous World Tour. Michael was catapulted onto the stage wearing his iconic version of a fencing suit, greeted by frenzied crowds, Michael’s timing was the INTRO. Kenny Ortega said that one of the things that set Michael apart from other artists was his sense of timing. Michael simply waits. Band members often had wagers as to how many minutes Michael would stand there, motionless. ‘Jam’ began when Michael was ready. Michael chose ‘Man in the Mirror’ as his OUTRO and CURTAIN CALL. But, that was not all. Michael suits up and FLIES off the stage with a jet pack. Now, that is an OUTRO. HISTORY WORLD TOUR: Michael’s History Album is a musical book. The first disc contains Michael’s memory choices…”It’s about people looking at their lives, and taking a few seconds of their well being.” MJ The second disc is biographical. “I’m not planning to write another book anytime soon. If you want to know how I feel, you can check out HIS tory. It’s a musical book.” MJ. The INTRO to the HWT concerts began with visual footage of Michael in a spacecraft traveling through history. Taking time to study the choices of images, Michael storytelling is revealed. When the film draws to an end, a capsule lifts out of the stage floor. Then, waiting. When Michael is ready and the crowd is in a state of frenzy, he pushes open the door and stands in his FAMOUS GOLDEN SUIT. Well, Ladies, nothing more needs to be said. After many more minutes, Michael steps out of the capsule and eventually begins ‘Scream’. NOW THAT’S AN INTRO. Michael chooses History as his OUTRO AND CURTAIN CALL. Flags from all nations on the tour are flown by members of the cast. Cast members march out for their introductions and Michael is raised to the stage floor on an elevator. The enormous jumbotron that is center stage shows multiple images of scenes from history and from Michael’s HIS tory film. Finally, when the song is complete, Michael’s left alone on stage. He beckons for two children to come and together they walk off while words from History’s historic voices completes the show…ending with, “THAT IS ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND.” The ultimate OUTRO. While other artists have created images that showcase their talents, what sets Michael apart is theme. Everything, EVERYTHING Michael chose was for reasons beyond just a look. It was theatre by design. It was drama for a purpose. His brilliance came through in every detail. His artistry basked in the glow of genius. Layers of sound reflected a commitment of time and energy unequalled. And, LOVE powered it all. Segway and Medley are often used by performers, but, here again, Michael took it to new levels. Choosing “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and, “She’s Out of My Life”, not only was it an opportunity to have a sensual moment with a lovely woman…it was about connecting with a Fan. That Fan represented EVERY FAN. It was a symbolic gesture of his love and appreciation for all fans. When he bowed down before a Fan, it was as if Prince Charming was offering himself. Michael humbled himself on stage as easily as he danced across its vastness. “You Are Not Alone” gave Michael an opportunity to say to his Fans…I AM HERE TO STAY. Michael Jackson used the Jackson Five Medley in all his shows. Beyond the combining of songs into part of a setlist, for Michael if offered two things: a look back at his years singing and performing with his brothers…and, a moment where he and his Fans sang together, “I’ll Be There.” With hands swaying in the air, a profoundly strong bond empowered a love movement that continues to this day. Michael’s short film performances raised the bar so high that, to this day, no one has come close. (Michael Jackson One) Today, when I see a video that accompanies a song, I am looking at one of two things…either it is copying something Michael did years ago…or, it is selling sex. Now, there’s nothing wrong with sex…Michael’s “In the Closet” is a wonderful example of sensuality. The difference is…when Michael used sensuality, he did it in a classy way, AND, it furthered the storytelling. It wasn’t placed in the short film just because some record company exec thinks it would sell. Michael made choices based on creativity and uniqueness. He pushed the envelope and never repeated himself. He was a pioneer in very sense of the word. INTROS AND OUTROS advanced the story, created magic, engaged the viewer immediately. It wasn’t only that Michael didn’t view cost as a deterrent, he made artistic choices that fit the theme and furthered the artistry. “Everybody radiates from a different frequency, and Michael had the highest level of energy I think without being from another world. His gift and his humanity of spirit were just so powerful and great and deep. He was a different human being from most of us; from all of us. He did affect people that came around him, from leaders of the world to normal folk, from children to people, to grandmothers. Every single person that’s been around him said they felt something, that I remember seeing or talking to. And that’s why people cry. I would sit on the stage and watch them pass bodies. You would see them lift bodies, arms dangling and legs, heads swinging, and there was like an ocean of people with their arms up passing bodies to the front, to the gate. There would be a line-up there of emergency vehicles…five, ten of them lined up. There were stretchers and triages back there. One by one, people were passing them forward; sometimes a multitude of bodies moving across the crowd being passed to the rescue people. They would give them smelling salts and try to revive them. Some people were just totally gone, and that’s just from being in that stadium with Michael. I just got to just sit back there and marvel at it. It was just the most powerful thing to see, and that’s just from that one man in the centre of the stage. He made even men pass out; women and men. That’s a power and Michael knew it. He knew he was gifted with something special, a purpose; uniting the world and uniting people.” Jonathan Sugarfoot Moffett Michael Jackson dictated from a soul whose singular purpose was to bring his talents and love to a world in need of healing. His genius knew no limits. His energies were tireless. His spirit and heart were pure. Immersed in his artistry, we have given our hearts. We are empowered by his love.
“When Michael Jackson sings, it is with the voice of angels, and when his feet move, you can see God dancing.”
Sir Bob Geldof
Michael Jackson ARTIST OF A GENERATION
Jude HIS tory MYstory YOURstory OURstory