How does one become a Michael Jackson fan? One young woman said she grew up with popular culture at a time when Michael was playing a major role in it; and she is proud that he was involved – that he was one to admire and his talent was unquestionable.
For my part, being a few years older than Michael, I of course knew of the Jackson 5 and one could hardly miss Thriller, Billie Jean and Bad. But other than his greatest hits, I have to admit I largely was unaware of Michael’s career and his impact on music and popular culture. Perhaps it was because his music came under the pop category – even though I was to find it encompassed much more than pop – and I have always been more a listener of blues and rock.
At any rate, I have youtube to thank for being the avenue of my introduction to the genius of Michael Jackson. One day late in August 2010, I accessed youtube, and as I was later to find out, perhaps because it being the anniversary of his birth, a video of his was just one click away. From there I looked up the 30th anniversary concert, Madison Square Gardens, NYC, 2001 at which Elizabeth Taylor introduced Michael as a great humanitarian. That caught my attention, I had never heard him referred to as such, and promptly researched this further and found that proceeds from tours had gone to charity and the Heal the World Foundation and of Michael’s visits to hospitals and Neverland being open to sick children.
Wanting to find out what he was like as a dancer and on tour, it wasn’t long before I came across the performance in Bucharest and then watched everything I could find featuring his moves. Could I think of any other singer songwriters or composers who also danced their way across the stage. Not easily. Later looking up Jackson 5 videos – it was evident the years and years spent honing his stage skills from early childhood on.
I was finally to discover, that no matter which song Michael Jackson either wrote himself or performed, I liked them all. Yes I’d become a fan – going on to check out every interview he ever gave. finding out more about his whole family and going on Twitter to find out what the other Jacksons, particularly the brothers, are currently up to. From whom did he learn to become so soft spoken and articulate – perhaps they had drilled him at Motown but surely Katherine is the original example to emulate.
l was thrilled to catch the Cirque du Soleil show in Vancouver in November 2011 and again in August 2012. Having many of the people involved who originally worked with Michael on tour and on his albums, like Sugarfoot Moffet, Greg Phillinganes and Jamie King – his artistic integrity has been maintained. It’s a spectacular show with the live band, the acrobats, the dancers, the visuals.
I thought that my journey as a “fanatic” would be a solitary one. After all, at the time, I lived north of the 60th parallel, in Whitehorse, Yukon so I thought it highly unlikely I would find anyone to share my obsession. However I was wrong. Some time after leaving the Yukon I received an email from my former boss, with Michael Jackson in the subject line. I thought he was teasing me – as he had caught me once in his office practicing the Drill. I used to have a bit of fun at the bakery where I worked. On the front counter rested a basket of white gloves which we used to take the freshly baked loaves of bread off the shelves. One day a new customer asked me what they were for. “Oh,” I offered, “we’re all Michael Jackson fans, stick around long enough and you might catch us breaking into Billie Jean.” For a moment I think she believed me.
So it was a thrill to find out someone from Whitehorse who, like me had come to fandom late in life, had heard of me and wanted to connect. Though we have yet to meet in person and are now planning a trip to Gary, Indiana in 2017, we have gotten to know each other a little through email and social media. I sometimes can go long stretches dropping out of the technological world, so am not always up to date with spin off MJ projects. So it was she who introduced me to what is called In the Studio with Michael Jackson.
These are musical seminars offered world wide by one of MJ’s former sound engineers. A story teller extraordinaire, he invites other artists who also once worked in some capacity with Michael, in the studio to share their stories as well. For someone like me who would never have thought much about the anatomy of how a recording is made, and to hear the break down or a completed piece on the best studio equipment out there at near MJ decibels are experiences I never imagined to have. Quite addictive and always something new is added so I now have had more fun than a person should be allowed at two of these events – one in Boston, another in Toronto.
Life can be a trip sometimes on which one doesn’t necessarily want to find themselves, be it the ill health of a loved one or whatever, but if one of Michael’s goals, as he stated, was to allow for some escapism and entertainment, he has definitely provided that for me. Although it is saddening that he left us, and his young family and extended family far too soon – he left the world with so much of his essence to live on.