Tag: Michael Jackson

National Portrait Gallery in London Debuts Michael Jackson-Inspired Art Exhibition “On The Wall”

Detail from Thriller (Black and White), 2017, by Graham Dolphin. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

by Adrian Searle via theguardian.com

‘Ariel of the ghetto,” the writer Hilton Als called him. He has been compared to Baudelaire and Frankenstein’s monster; he played the Scarecrow in the Wiz, and transformed himself into a zombie in the Thriller video. He was both a global superstar and an enigma, almost universally feted, then prosecuted and vilified. Michael Jackson, now the subject of a large and surprising exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery, proves to be an enormously fertile figure for artists to have got their heads, as well as their art around, and often their hearts too.

Largely, Jackson passed me by, except as a kind of background music. The videos came and went on the screen and, as the news stories and TV footage became ever more puzzling and alarming, what interest I might have had in him became increasingly voyeuristic.

Equestrian Portrait of King Philip II (Michael Jackson), 2010, by Kehinde Wiley. Photograph: Jeurg Iseler/Kehinde Wiley, courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York

And all the while Jackson kept cropping up in places I didn’t expect to find him. My dry cleaner on the Hackney Road dressed like him. Jeff Koons made a giant porcelain sculpture of Jackson and his pet chimp, Bubbles. And here he is in Andy Warhol portraits, and in a huge equestrian portrait by Kehinde Wiley, based on Rubens’ Philip II on Horseback. Jackson is on the cover of Rolling Stone and Ebony and, in a Catherine Opie photograph, framed and smiling on Elizabeth Taylor’s bedside table. He’s a pieta, the Archangel Michael defeating the devil and, in a Mark Flood collage, a four-eyed alien standing next to ET. There are gigantic Michaels, tiny Michaels, badly drawn Michaels. Here he is in a horrible painting by Maggie Hambling that makes you squirm and want to run away. It is the worst thing here.

Interview magazine, September 2009 by KAWS. Photograph: Courtesy of KAWS

In Jordan Wolfson’s “Neverland,” Jackson is reduced to a tiny pair of hand-drawn eyes, blinking and swaying in a blank sea of emptiness on a big screen, to a gurgling sound reminiscent of a fish-tank aerator. Globbloboblob goes the sound, replacing whatever music Jackson might be swaying to. In Appau Junior Boakye-Yiadom’s PYT, Jackson is reduced to an overlarge pair of penny loafers, held on tiptoe (like his dance move “the freeze”) by a bunch of balloons. David Hammons has Jackson as one of a trio of microphone stands, the others standing for boxer Mike Tyson and basketball player Michael Jordan, in Which Mike Do You Want to Be Like…? The mic stands are too high for anyone to use, an image of unattainable ambitions and public expectations.
Continue reading “National Portrait Gallery in London Debuts Michael Jackson-Inspired Art Exhibition “On The Wall””

Diana Ross to Receive Lifetime Achievement Honor at American Music Awards 

Diana Ross (photo via eurweb.com)

via eurweb.com

Diana Ross will be given a Lifetime Achievement honor at the 45th annual American Music Awards, and also perform during the broadcast, which airs Nov. 19 on ABC from Los Angeles’ Microsoft  Theater. Ross has history with the AMAs, having attended her first ceremony in 1974 and serving as host in 1986 and 1987. She has seven AMA wins under her belt and has performed many times on the show, which is produced by Dick Clark Productions.

“I have endless memories of all the years that I have appeared on the American Music Awards,” Ross said in a Wednesday release about honor. “It started with Dick Clark and The Caravan of Stars and American Bandstand. It was Dick Clark who said, ‘Music is the soundtrack of our lives.’ So true. I am so excited to be receiving this honorable award.”

The American Music Award for Lifetime Achievement, given to those who’ve had significant contributions to the music industry, has previously honored Sting, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Gloria Estefan and Prince. Nominations for the 2017 AMAs were announced last week, with Bruno Mars leading with eight and followed by Ed Sheeran, The Chainsmokers, Drake, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd, each with five.

To read more, go to: Diana Ross to Receive Lifetime Achievement Honor at American Music Awards | EURweb

R.I.P. George Michael: Requiem for a Soul Man

Pop/R&B Superstar singer/writer/producer George Michael (photo via bet.com)

essay by Keith Murphy via bet.com

There’s an avalanche of thoughts that tumble through one’s mind when you are left to ponder the extraordinary (yet criminally underrated) career of George Michael following his shocking death on Christmas Day at the age of 53. But for this writer, the date of January 30, 1989, remains a moment that underlines the sheer gift, curse and deeply complex appeal of the ultimate white rhythm and blues vocalist. It was at Los Angeles’s Shrine Auditorium during the American Music Awards where Michael stepped on a debate-igniting, cultural land mine.

The former member of the monstrous pop duo Wham! was coming off the unfathomable commercial triumph of his critically-acclaimed solo debut Faith, which would go on to sell 25 million copies worldwide (10 million in the U.S. alone). Michael was now being viewed as a worthy addition to the ‘80s holy pop trinity of Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna. When you headline your own sold-out world tour (The 1988 Faith trek became the second-highest-grossing tour of that year, pulling in nearly $20 million), fire off six consecutive top five singles on the Billboard charts (fueled by the one-two punch of the No. 1 rockabilly-dipped-in-soul title track and the dark, controlling church-infused ballad “Father Figure”) and win Album of the Year at the Grammys, you can pretty much write your own check.

But before that coronation solidified his place as a legit music industry behemoth, Michael found himself at the center of a racial tsunami when he won two AMAs for Favorite Album (Soul/R&B) and Favorite Male Artist (Soul/R&B). This was the era of the “Crossover Negro,” especially in the recording biz, as the aforementioned King of Pop and The Purple One — alongside the likes of Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Tina Turner, and Lionel Richie — all took turns ruling the top of the charts. Teddy Riley was leading the multi-platinum New Jack Swing wave. And hip-hop’s golden age was just kicking off, forcing MTV to create Yo! MTV Raps just to keep up with the street-infused genre’s groundbreaking stars like N.W.A., Public Enemy, Eric B & Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa and De La Soul. Black culture was cool and was only going to get cooler in the next decade.

For many African-American followers, their first introduction to the East Finchley, London native was Wham!’s 1982 cheeky, disco-rap rave-up “Young Guns (Go For It).” Michael and his conspicuously silent partner Andrew Ridgeley were pushed as cutesy teen idols that indulged in the funk.

But while Wham!’s No. 1 commercial breakthrough, 1984’s overtly day-glow single “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” made them global stars, it was a heaven-sent slow jam that forever gave Michael his ‘hood pass. At just 17 years old, the gifted singer/songwriter wrote and produced the mournful torch song “Careless Whisper,” a mammoth hit that not only reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, but also became a top 10 hit on the U.S. Hot Black Singles, earning its place as a quiet storm staple on R&B radio. “I’m never going to dance again/Guilty feet have got no rhythm,” remains one of that era’s most heartbreaking lines ever recorded. This was a different cat.

To read full essay, go to: George Michael: Requiem for a Soul Man

MUSIC: All 9 Jackson Family Siblings Have Now Had Solo Hits on the Billboard Charts

The Jackson Five photographed in Amsterdam circa 1977.   (GIJSBERT HANEKROOT/REDFERNS)

article by Trevor Anderson via billboard.com

Tito Jackson joins his brothers and sisters like Michael and Janet, and scores his first solo hit on the Billboard charts with “Get It Baby.”  With the single’s recent debut, Tito becomes the ninth and final Jackson family sibling to place a solo single on the charts.

Michael Jackson’s Top 50 Billboard Hits

For over 45 years, the Jackson family has been charting hits — stretching back to the 1969 debut of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” on the Billboard Hot 100. In the following decades, the children of Joe and Katherine Jackson all embarked on solo careers, most spectacularly with Michael Jackson. By 1989, eight of the nine siblings had reached the charts.

“Get It Baby,” featuring Big Daddy Kane, debuts at No. 30 on the Billboard + Twitter Top Tracks chart dated June 11, and climbs 29-26 on the Adult R&B Songs airplay chart in its second week.

The Jackson siblings’ solo chart runs date back to October 30, 1971, when Michael Jackson’s debut single, “Got to Be There,” started at No. 89 on the Hot 100. Since Michael kicked off his string, nine of the Jackson children have scored hits on a Billboard songs chart (listed in birth order):

Maureen “Rebbie” Jackson – seven charted titles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, including two top 10s in 1984’s “Centipede” (No. 4) and 1988’s “Plaything” (No. 8).

Sigmund “Jackie” Jackson – two charted titles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, including a 1989 top 40 hit “Stay” (No. 39).

Tito Jackson – “Get It Baby” debuted at No. 29 on Adult R&B Songs on the June 4, 2016 chart and Billboard + Twitter Top Tracks the following week.

Jermaine Jackson – 17 charted titles on the Hot 100, including two top 10 hits: “Daddy’s Home” in 1973 and “Let’s Get Serious” in 1980. Both cuts peaked at No. 9.

LaToya Jackson – nine charted titles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, including four top 40 hits. Her highest ranking track, “Bet’cha Gonna Need My Lovin’” climbed to No. 22 in 1983.

Marlon Jackson – two charted titles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, including the No. 2 smash “Don’t Go” in 1987.

Michael Jackson – 50 charted titles on the Hot 100, including 13 No. 1s, the most by any male artist in Hot 100 history.

Steven “Randy” Jackson – three charted titles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (one as a solo artist and two as part of Randy & The Gypsys). Of those three, 1990’s “Love You Honey” scored the best rank, topping out at No. 16.

Janet Jackson – 40 charted titles on the Hot 100, including 10 No. 1s.

Of course, the Jacksons also made music history working together. The Jackson 5 — a lineup consisting of Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon, Michael and Tito — scored Hot 100 No. 1s with their first four releases on Motown: “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There.”

After a break with the label, the group shifted to Epic Records and was renamed The Jacksons (with Randy replacing Jermaine). The new quintet racked up three more Hot 100 top 10s between 1977 and 1984.

Prince To Be Inducted Into Apollo Theater’s Walk of Fame this June

 Prince, performing in 2005.
Prince, performing in 2005. (Getty/Kevin Winter)

article by Dartunorro Clark via dnainfo.com

Prince will be immortalized at the Apollo Theater’s Walk of Fame.

Theater officials announced Wednesday they will add the Purple One to their walk under the theater’s iconic marquee on 125th Street during its annual spring gala and fundraiser next month, honoring the music legend’s contributions over 40 years.

Prince’s plaque will be in the company of previously inducted Walk of Fame music icons such as Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald.

“The Apollo family was, of course, devastated to hear about the loss of Prince. He is, hands down, one of the greatest artists of all time — an absolute genius — and his relationship with the Apollo dates back to 1993,” said Jonelle Procope, the Appollo’s president and CEO.

 The Apollo Theater honored Prince, who died at his Minnesota home Thursday at 57.
The Apollo Theater honored Prince, who died at his Minnesota home Thursday at 57. (DNAinfo/Kathleen Culliton)

“Over the years, we’ve been honored to host him, whether for a seminal New York performance or as a guest in our audience, so we are beyond thrilled to kick off this year’s Spring Gala by inducting him into the Apollo Walk of Fame.”

The gala, scheduled for June 13th at 7 p.m., will also feature a star-studded line up with performances from legendary R&B group The O’Jays and newer artists such as Leon Bridges and Andra Day.

LL Cool J will host. The evening will also include special tributes to other trailblazing artists who died in 2016, as well as a dance tribute to Prince.

LisaRaye McCoy Confronts Colorism, Pigmentocracy In Her Directorial Debut, “Skinned”

"Skinned" to air on TV One (photo via newsone.com)
Made-for-TV film”Skinned” about skin bleaching to air on TV One (photo via newsone.com)

This weekend, TV One will premiere LisaRaye McCoy‘s directorial debut with the made-for-TV film Skinnedwhich tackles a very sensitive topic within the African-American community.

Skinned confronts colorism, pigmentocracy, and the outbreak of skin bleaching, as well as the use of lightening creams amongst many individuals in America and around the world. 

According to Black Enterprise and the University of Cape Town, skin bleaching has ballooned into a $10 billion market and the long-term effects of bleaching one’s skin is currently unknown. Black Enterprise reports 35 percent of South African women bleach their skin, and 77 percent of Nigerian women bleach their skin.

LisaRaye McCoy talks about "Skinned" on NewsOne Now (photo via newsone.com)
Director LisaRaye McCoy talks about “Skinned” on NewsOne Now (photo via newsone.com)

On Friday, McCoy, best known for her roles in The Players Club, All of Us, Single Ladies and the TV One reality series The Real McCoy, joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss the notion of colorism within the Black community through the muse of Skinned’s main character, Jolie.

Essence Magazine reports, “Jolie is a young woman who is uncomfortable with her complexion and begins to experiment with bleaching and lightening creams to alter her skin tone.”

When asked why she wanted to tackle the issue of colorism in her directorial debut, McCoy said Studio 11 Films asked her to direct the movie and once she read the script, the message behind it forced her to ask, “Why do they want a light-skinned woman to direct a dark-skinned project?”

McCoy explained the reason was controversy. She said, “Controversy now sells and I wanted to have all eyes on this epidemic, because not only is it happening in Africa and our Caribbean nations, but here in America too.”

During their conversation, McCoy mentioned the lightening of former MLB star Sammy Sosa and late King of Pop Michael Jackson as instances of skin bleaching’s prevalence in our society.

McCoy later added that skin bleaching “causes skin cancer, yet it is an over-the-counter drug.”

Psychologist Dr. Kevin Washington, a board member of The Association of Black Psychologists, also joined Martin to discuss the epidemic. He said people of color have been “indoctrinated into a system of European superiority.”

“Anything that is associated with the dominate group becomes desirable,” said Dr. Washington. Adding, “Even in Cote d’Ivoire — just in May — they’ve banned skin bleaching for the purpose of health and racial identity.”

According to Washington, skin lightening “is not just a Black issue.” Dr. Washington said, “The idea of pigmentocracy takes over as a result of a hierarchy that is ascribed to the features associated with Whiteness in this country and globally.”

Watch Roland Martin, LisaRaye McCoy, and Dr. Kevin Washington discuss colorism, pigmentocracy, self-esteem, and Skinned, which premieres Saturday night at 8PM ET on TV One.

article via newsone.com

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Becomes the 1st 30-Times Multiplatinum Album in U.S. History

137410493-superstar-michael-jackson-holds-several-grammy-awards
Michael Jackson holding the several Grammy awards he won at the 1984 Grammy ceremonies Feb. 28, 1984, in Los Angeles. His top award was Album of the Year for Thriller. (SUSAN RAGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Michael Jackson is still setting records years after his death. The King of Pop’s Thriller album has become the first album to go platinum 30 times in the U.S., with sales of more than 30 million albums here and 100 million albums worldwide.

“RIAA has awarded gold and platinum records on behalf of the music business for nearly 60 years, but this is the first time an artist has crossed the 30-times, multiplatinum plateau,” said Recording Industry Association of America chief Cary Sherman in a statement. “We are honored to celebrate the unique status of Thriller in gold and platinum history.”

Thriller was released Nov. 30, 1982, and spent nearly two-and-a-half years on the Billboard album charts, with 37 weeks at No. 1. The album was produced by Quincy Jones and won eight Grammys. Included on the album were such hits as “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and its title song, “Thriller.”

“It is crystal clear that Michael Jackson is simply the greatest and biggest artist of all time,” Epic Records Chairman and CEO L.A. Reid said in a statement. “Not only are his charts hits, and sales stats staggering, but his pure musicality was otherworldly. Thriller was groundbreaking and electrifying … it was perfection. I am extremely proud that Michael is the heart and soul of Epic Records, and he will forever remain the one-and-only King of Pop.”

article by Yesha Callahan via theroot.com

Spike Lee’s New Michael Jackson Documentary To Premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January

"Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to 'Off the Wall'"
Spike Lee directs documentary “Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to ‘Off the Wall'” (photo via blogs.indiewire.com)

I had no idea Spike Lee was working on another Michael Jackson film. Or maybe I did, but I just don’t recall. I searched the S&A archives but didn’t immediately find anything, so it doesn’t appear we mentioned it. There was the Michael Jackson documentary Spike made in 2012, in collaboration with Jackson’s estate and Sony Music, titled “Bad 25.” But this one is an entirely new project, which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival next month.

Titled “Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to ‘Off The Wall'”, the documentary’s synopsis reads: Catapulted by the success of his first major solo project, “Off The Wall,” Michael Jackson went from child star to King of Pop. This film explores the seminal album, with rare archival footage and interviews from those who were there and those whose lives its success and legacy impacted.

My research tells me that Spike first shared that he was working on this earlier this year, while doing press for his last film, “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” ahead of its USA release. Although he didn’t share any details – just that he was working on it, with potential plans to make similar documentaries on other seminal MJ albums, like “Thriller.”

No trailer or much media available yet for “Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to ‘Off the Wall'” except for the above still from Sundance.

article by Tambay A. Obenson via Shadow And Act

NYT MUSIC FEATURE: Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World?

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The Weeknd (Photo Credit: Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, The New York Times)

The scene backstage last November at the American Music Awards, that annual gathering of pop perennials and idiosyncratic arrivistes, was carnivalesque: Niall and Liam of One Direction toddled about trying to snap a picture with a selfie stick, while Zayn, their bandmate at the time, smoked coolly out of frame; Ne-Yo was there in a leopard-­print blazer two sizes too small; Lil Wayne was wandering around, alone, wearing absurd shoes. In the middle of it all, Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, remained calm, slow ­motion to everyone else’s warp speed.

Allergic to these sorts of scrums, he found his way to his trailer to hang with his friends, five or so fellow Canadians, all of them art-goth chic, wearing expensive sneakers and draped in luxurious, flowing black. Tesfaye, 25, was dressed down by comparison, in a black corduroy jacket and paint-­splattered jeans (Versace, but still). He stands 5-foot-7, plus a few more inches with his hair, an elaborate tangle of dreadlocks that he has been growing out for years, more or less letting it go where it wants. It spills out at the sides of his head and shoots up over it, like a cresting wave. Casually, Tesfaye did some vocal warm-ups and sat indifferently as his underutilized makeup artist dabbed foundation under his eyes and balm on his lips.

Abel Tesfaye, a.k.a. the Weeknd, at his apartment building in Toronto last December. (Credit: Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times)

He’d just had his first flash of true pop success: ‘‘Love Me Harder,’’ his duet with Ariana Grande, the childlike pop star with the grown-up voice, cracked the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. He was scheduled to make a surprise cameo here at the end of a Grande medley. Until that song and, in a sense, that moment, Tesfaye had been a no-hit wonder: a cult act with millions of devotees and almost no mainstream profile.

When Tesfaye came out from the shadows midway through Grande’s performance, the crowd screamed. For two minutes, the singers traded vocal riffs and unflinching eye contact, Grande playing the naïf and Tesfaye the aggressor. The performance was quick and sweaty, and seconds after it was over, Tesfaye was already speeding for the exit, stopping only for a quick embrace from Kendall and Kylie Jenner. When he reached the parking lot, a yappy talent wrangler for an entertainment-­news show sensed an opportunity and asked for an interview. Tesfaye gave him an amused half-smile and kept walking. ‘‘Hey!’’ the guy shouted in desperation, fumbling for a name before landing on the wrong one: ‘‘A$AP Rocky!’’ Tesfaye turned his head and said, ‘‘C’mon, man,’’ arching an eyebrow, then picked up the pace.

Even though he had just performed for an audience of millions, Tesfaye was still, to many of them, a total stranger. When he began releasing music in 2010 — murky Dalí-esque R.&B., sung in an astrally sweet voice, vivid with details of life at the sexual and pharmacological extremes — Tesfaye chose to be a cipher. The only photos of him in circulation were deliberately obscured; he didn’t do interviews. His reticence was an asset — fans devoured the music without being distracted by a personality. Their loyalty was to the songs and, in a way, to the idea of the Weeknd. He was happy to stay out of the way.

Continue reading “NYT MUSIC FEATURE: Can the Weeknd Turn Himself Into the Biggest Pop Star in the World?”

United Negro College Fund Announces New Michael Jackson and Ray Charles Scholarships

michael-jacksonr-ray-charles
Musical legends Michael Jackson and Ray Charles (photo via eurweb.com)

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is putting the icon status of Michael Jackson and Ray Charles towards a great cause with the establishment of two new scholarship programs.

A press release reveals the Michael Jackson scholarship will provide financial assistance to communication arts and social science students attending a UNCF college/university during the upcoming academic year.

To qualify for the scholarship, high school seniors must plan on enrolling at a UNCF member school in the fall. Proof of acceptance at the UNCF college/university must be submitted. Depending on the financial need of the student as verified by the attending University or College, the scholarship will provide an award totaling up $5,000.

In addition to the Michael Jackson scholarship, the release detailed the intent of the Ray Charles Endowed Scholarship, which is set up to help African-American students with high academic promise that have significant financial need.

Endowment scholarships, which are renewable for up to one year, will be awarded to students who meet the recommended eligibility criteria. Criteria includes students being an African-American junior enrolled full-time at a UNCF member HBCU and having a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. In addition, students must have a demonstrated unmet financial need that is verified by their college or university.

For more details on the Michael Jackson UNCF Scholarship, click here. More information on the Ray Charles Endowment Scholarship can be found here.

article by Qwest7 via eurweb.com