As I began my fifth year of studying Michael Jackson’s creative and humanitarian life, I chose to PAY MICHAEL FORWARD in two new ways. Heretofore, I had been sharing with my husband and friends through what I called ARTISTS’ DATES…an idea that I made my own after spending years studying Julia Cameron and THE ARTIST’S WAY. New for me was writing a blog and joining Facebook. I had hoped for a global connection and an opportunity to share this amazing life I had been gifted. I wished with all my heart that I would become connected to a bigger world of people who knew what I knew…whose hearts had been touched and whose lives had been changed…all of that requiring a real connection. Michael taught me to “go for your dreams”, trusting in myself and God. I must admit he is far better at that than I.
And so, today, two days before the fourth anniversary of Michael’s death, I take another leap of faith and I write. The months of May and June have been tough. Michael’s civil trial continues its slow pace. Conrad Murray continues to try to convince people that he is not responsible for Michael’s death by putting blame and abuse on Michael…he wants to go free. And, most devastating, Wade Robson is about to begin his very public attack on Michael’s reputation and legacy. All of this takes place without Michael to speak the truth. The media continues to justify its appalling behavior towards Michael with a self-serving version of reality. One day rolls into another finding me trying to cope and crying a lot. And then, there’s Michael’s children, caught in the middle of it all. Michael dedicated himself to his dear ones and valiantly protected them from media vomit and family politics. He is not here, now.
The light beckons each morning. I open my eyes to see the green of summer. I have been nourished by sleep. Now is the time to decide how to begin. Will I feel that lump in my throat fearing the worst from the sharks and vultures? Will evening’s salty tears begin the new day. No! I can’t allow that to happen. If I do, then I have learned nothing from Michael. If I do, then I can do nothing to PAY MICHAEL FORWARD. If I do, then I can offer nothing to young people like Paris, Prince and Blanket. Often, the evil seems stronger than my determination. Take a breath. Use the power of words. Use the knowledge gained. And, rely on the love and wisdom of my MJ Family. Suddenly, I can make sense out of the struggle. The journey I have taken with Michael has given me tools for a more creative and giving life. I have been introduced to friends who are doing amazing work around the planet. OneRose4Michael, Majorloveprayer, A Million Trees for Michael, MJJJustice Project, MJJCommunity…the list is wonderfully long and growing daily. Facebook Friends offer up beautiful pictures and words to strengthen me, make me smile, give me hope.
To honor Michael and to show appreciation to all who give love each day, I want to share my gratitude with words. June 25, 2013, Forest Lawn will be filled with the beauty of 13,447 long-stemmed red roses. It makes my heart so very happy knowing 7 of the roses are from me. I would like to give 7 PAYING MICHAEL FORWARD gifts, one for each rose, to my MJFAMILY. I thank you for all you have given me. You are an inspiration to me as I continue to be stunned by the outpouring of love for Michael. We are connected by love. Michael is my inspiration and my hope and I know my MJFamily feels that inspiration and hope. IT TRULY IS ALL FOR LOVE.
A ROSE FOR THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VOICE
There is something about Michael’s voice that reaches deep inside me. Yes, he has a four octave range. Yes, he honed his amazing God-given gift tirelessly. Yes, his background vocals are legendary, his harmonies stun. But, for me, and I would venture to say, for legions of others, there is a soul connection that reaches deep to my core. I feel him on a cellular level. With Michael, everything is personal. His emotional vocal performance paints layers of sound interpreting his message. He is innately sensual. Many have talked about “mikegasms” as something passionately felt while SEEING performance. But, in Michael’s case, performance comes in many forms…vocal performance, live performance, film performance. All evoke a deep connection that stirs passion. Of course, this is a female phenomenon to be sure. But, many heterosexual men have admitted to having similar feelings. I think it has to do with Michael’s touching on the human condition and all of its vulnerabilities.
Because Michael is a songwriter and composer and because his voice can go from angelic to gritty to angry to passionate to sexual to childlike…his music touches every emotional level. That means, I can go to a Michael Jackson song for any feeling I might be experiencing on any given day.
There is a downside to all of this…it is that I AM TOTALLY SPOILED. Once I experienced Michael Jackson’s complete catalog…and, all the demos now available…there was no turning back. It is simple. I get bored with everyone else. THERE IS MICHAEL JACKSON AND THEN THERE IS EVERYONE ELSE. Sorry, that’s just how it is.
ONE ROSE IS IN APPRECIATION FOR THE MOST AMAZING VOICE I HAVE EVER ENJOYED.
A ROSE FOR ARRANGEMENTS, PRODUCTION, LAYERS OF SOUND
Michael wrote entire songs in his head. The trick was to get what he heard, inside, out so the rest of the world could enjoy it. The layers of sound, rhythms, harmonies, melodies, beatboxing, sounds the ear had never heard before were laid down on multiple tracks. Michael was a perfectionist and never settled. It would often take years before he was at the point where he would release a piece of music…and, even then, he believed in REVISITING, NOURISHING, DEFINING. Things were never really completed by his standards. He was a musical genius, a visionary, a pioneer. He heard music in everything…EVERYTHING! He would often sit with sections of an orchestra and sing EVERY NOTE that they were going to play. He could be an entire rhythm section all by himself…beatboxing multiple instruments SIMULTANEOUSLY. When I say GENIUS…I am not kidding. Because his imagination knew no limits, each track on an album was completely different. Michael wrote in many different genres all the time.
When I listen to his albums, I hear tracks that have completely different themes, completely different production values, instrumentations. Multiple rhythms are heard in one piece. Michael loved collaborating…working in a community. He had done that his entire life.
What the listener soon discovers is the pure joy that was present when the albums were recorded. That joy comes through to the ear. Michael’s happiness, his zeal for making wonderful music, his professionalism and work ethic…his art are all presented to the listener as a gift of pure love.
A ROSE FOR WORDS
Now we come to Michael’s messages to the world. I have often said when Michael opened his mouth you wanted to say, “WAIT! WAIT! LET ME WRITE THIS DOWN!” He was an unparalleled songwriter…poet. The interesting thing is that on the surface one might think the lyrics and poetry were childlike, and, that would be partly true. Michael was writing for all ages. That meant that children were his focus. Many songs were written so that young voices could enjoy singing them and could understand their meaning. But, there is no song in his catalog that reaches a singular level. In fact, multiple listenings will reap multiple understandings. The more studied, the greater the wisdom. One of the things I have done during my years of researching Michael’s work is to do many storyboards. When I group them together and take in all that they contain, I realize the commonality…HUMANITY. Michael was always writing about, singing, talking about the human condition. And, his ultimate message was very simple…LOVE!
As a human being, Michael walked through fire many times. The pain that he experienced informed his work. The suffering that he saw in the world informed his work. His concern for the planet informed his work. One of the many reasons Michael inspires millions of people…and, me, is that he could be stoned over and over again and only give back love. He turned heartache and disappointment into stunning music. We can feel the pain, we can feel the hope for a better world. The fact is, Michael LOVED people. He BELIEVED in people. He TURNED to people. “STAND UP FOR ME, BROTHER! STAND UP FOR ME, SISTER! STAND UP! STAND UP! STAND UP!”
Michael gave us many, many wonderful stories. He was a vanguard of short films. His storyboards were legend. His imagination was unequalled. He saw no boundaries or borders. He always thought out-of-the-box. When it came to his creative life…the words can’t or no were not in his vocabulary. Money didn’t motivate Michael. Creativity motivated Michael. MICHAEL NEVER AIMED LOW. When we view his 40 or more short films today…they are fresh and real and unequalled. There is a reason why Michael had his billionth view on YouTube in January 2012. There is a reason why his short films sell more than anyone in history. THEY TELL A WONDERFUL STORY. THEY ARE DETAILED. THEY ARE ART IN ITS HIGHEST FORM. And, of course, MICHAEL JACKSON IS IN THEM! Ohhhh, I misspoke…Michael did several short films of message where the visuals were poignant with no Michael in sight. He was BEHIND the camera.
A ROSE FOR THE DANCER
To me, there has never been nor will ever be a dancer like Michael Jackson. Michael was a dancer in his soul. It goes without saying that Michael spent thousands of hours practicing, perfecting this God-given gift. He was a brilliant choreographer. From the time he was a little boy, all he had to do was SEE a movement or dance step or routine and he could DO it. Being well-practiced, well-rehearsed is a part of being a professional. Once Michael took the stage, be it in film or live, the innate dancer took over. IT WASN’T ABOUT THINKING…IT WAS ABOUT FEELING. Each performance was different, each audience was different, each take was different…because, MICHAEL WAS DIFFERENT EACH TIME. He often talked about letting the music speak…allowing the dance to take over. This is what separates Michael from all the rest. His body was interpreting a story, the music…becoming each instrument in the band. He felt every sound, every beat, every word. In fact, you could take away elements of sound and voice, the dance would tell you the story all by itself. The Black Panther dance is a good example of that.
Michael had a dancer’s body. The simple fact was HE WAS BEAUTIFUL. Costume design, WEARABLE ART, was purposefully done to enhance that body. Color and style were meant to draw the eye to the dancer silhouette. Because every movement came from inside, sensuality, sexuality and passion drenched every performance.
Amazingly, even when you couldn’t see Michael move, you knew he was. Michael always recorded his music in a darkened studio, no paper, everything memorized…and, there were microphones to capture the sounds of his feet and body…Michael was dancing and the studied listener knows it. His total BODY gives a performance 100% of the time.
It is safe to say that Fans wanted to experience a Michael Jackson performance as much for the dance as for the music. He was the total package and we all know it.
A ROSE FOR PERFORMANCE ART
There is no doubt, MICHAEL IS THE WORLD’S GREATEST PERFORMER. He was born to perform. He loved being on stage…it had been his home since he was a child. It was his time to connect with the Fans he loved so very much. It was his time to share his message of LOVE with the world. His tours were theatre. His attention to every detail…from lighting to costuming to blocking to sound to enormous jumbotrons to pyrotechs to cast and band to props and designs…EVERYTHING CAPTURED HIS IMAGINATION AND HIS ATTENTION. He didn’t like to repeat himself, he wanted to grow and continue to create something new. He wanted the elements of magic and mystery to surprise his audiences with the unexpected. He embraced change. He listened to his Fans when they shared with him what they would love to see. He was connected to everything and everyone. NEVER SETTLING…he would view a performance immediately after the show, deciding what needed to be fixed, what went well. His tours were divided into LEGS and before a leg would take place, new rehearsals and ideas were designed. Michael was a workaholic, a perfectionist. His Fans felt a sense of JOY in the work. We still do. Michael had the gift of selecting collaborators and creative people who could work with him to realize the vision he saw in his head. He was adept at putting the right people together for unparalleled results. Everyone worked hard and had some of the best times of their lives.
Understanding all of that, the key element that separates Michael Jackson the performer from everyone else, I believe, is his ability to be intimate and vulnerable in front of millions of people. When he took the stage, it became PERSONAL for everyone in the audience. His sincerity was palpable. Michael gave every emotion he had and the audience received and returned them. He often described it as a ping-pong effect. The key factor here is that IT WAS ALL REAL. The electricity Fans felt was the real deal. The connection lasted long after the lights had gone down. Michael wore his heart on his sleeve, shared his most intimate thoughts with his Fans and earned their love and loyalty and respect which lasts to this day.
For me, I simply can’t get enough. Each and every performance, whether recorded, in film or live on stage, draws me in no matter how many times I experience it. MICHAEL NEVER GETS OLD. In fact, he continues to capture audiences of all ages and races and nationalities all over this planet. I believe it has to do with unparalleled talent and unparalleled and genuine love.
A ROSE FOR HUMANITARIANISM
For me, there will never be another Michael Jackson. I believe he was CHOSEN. I believe God gave him unparalleled gifts so that he could give the world hope and inspiration. I believe that his character, his music, his values all brought something to the world that we must have in order to survive as a planet. Michael was a world leader for love. And, from where I am sitting today, I do not see another who has taken up his mantle. Michael was able to move masses of people for good. He did it while he was alive in hundreds of performances to millions of people. He did it in great numbers of speeches. He did it in lyrics and poetry and prose. He broke down barriers and brought people together who had been separated. He inspired people to look at themselves, make changes, make a little space to make a better place and heal the world, look at the planet and try to save it, and ask what more can I give. He started and supported countless charities, showed up EVERYWHERE he was needed.
Michael brought to the forefront the plight of children. Because he had missed out on childhood, he was sensitive to children and their pain. As a child, he sought out the world’s suffering so that he could see it first hand and understand. He understood abuse, bullying, loneliness and struggle. That empathy informed his art and his missions around the world. His gift of inspiring people to act on a global scale is undeniable. FOUR YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH, MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ARE ACTIVISTS BECAUSE OF MICHAEL. Michael’s Soldiers of Love include every race, color, religion, age and culture. HE IS THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON ON THE PLANET. That fame has brought despair and agony…but, it brings with it a power to move people for good.
I have become a better person by knowing Michael Jackson. Of that, there is no doubt. I have become an activist for children and the planet, for the hungry and homeless. I have become an activist for Michael Jackson and for projects for justice around the globe. To be sure, while Michael was AN ACTIVIST IN CAPITAL LETTERS, I am an activist in very tiny letters. But, it is a start. When I hear myself saying that, I also hear Michael saying that we should never minimize our gifts…if we do, God will take them away. I hear that and I understand.
And so, Dear Friends, I give you my gift of seven roses in words. One thing I have come to believe as I have traveled the Michaeling Path, I do understand who Michael was, his gifts and his enormous love. I understand his path and the decisions he made. I sometimes feel I have crawled inside his head and looked around. Of course, he is the genius, not I. But, my life experiences and the fires I have walked through help me understand the human being. There have been so many times I have had an “AHHA” moment with Michael. I truly love that. I believe in Michael with all my heart and soul. I believe in YOU…my Michaeling Friends. I am committed to PAYING MICHAEL FORWARD for as long as I have a voice.
TODAY IS A CELEBRATION OF LOVE FOR MICHAEL…JUNE 25, 2013. IT IS A DAY OF FRIENDSHIP. IT IS A DAY OF MICHAELING. IT IS A DAY OF SUPPORTING ONE ANOTHER. IT IS A DAY FOR JUSTICE FOR MICHAEL.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1T5cB6yyivY
IT IS ALL FOR LOVE
I love you!