Jan 28 2012

“I don’t wanna go on this tour, I just don’t feel right about it”

Category: Friends,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 10:23 pm

Michael during 'This is It' rehearsals

You may or may not have heard or read about Michael’s request that Andrae Crouch sing the song “It Won’t Be Long” for him just one week before he died. I’ve come upon an interview where Andrae mentions this, as well as another comment Michael made to him regarding the “This is It” tour. It seems Michael had a sense that maybe something was amiss:

…at the rehearsal before he passed, [Michael Jackson] stood right there in the middle of us all and talked about the [TII] tour and how the stage was going to be built and what it would look like. But in the same breath he said, “I don’t wanna go on this tour, I just don’t feel right about it”. That’s what he said. He kinda knew that something was going on but he didn’t know what. I know he is with the Lord because he was so ready. When we did the song “Man in the mirror”, we would do a warm up song called “It won’t be long” and every time we got together he told me that he always would sing that song to himself and he asked if we could sing that song for him and I said “Sure”. He loved that song and he was so gentle and I praise God for the work that he did in his life before he went to be with the Lord. -Andrae Crouch

SOURCE: http://rootmagazineonline.com/featured-content/1970/

Here’s the song Michael loved and asked Andrae to sing for him just one week before he died:

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Jan 22 2012

Two Birds, a Remembrance

Category: Friends,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 4:28 pm

Michael with "Buzzie Wuzzie"

Buz” Kohan was born in New York in August 1933. He is an award-winning producer, writer, and composer. Among his many credits are  working on “Jackson Family Honors“, “Going Back to Indiana“, “Motown 25“, “You Were There” – Sammy Davis Jr.’s 60th Birthday Celebration, the 1993 Presidential Inaugural Gala, and too many others to mention.

He also co-wrote and co-composed “Gone Too Soon“, which most people know Michael sang on behalf of Ryan White, who died of AIDS in the 1980s.  Buz remembers a living gift Michael gave to him in appreciation for a poem Buz wrote for Michael. It was a poem that let Michael know that Buz understood the anguish he was suffering during a difficult time in his life. Buz says:

This poem I wrote for Michael back in 2004, when he was going through a very difficult time. I sent it and a day or two later, a messenger came to my door to give me a big bag of gifts. I was about to sign the shipping, when he said that there was more. He returned with a large metal object that seemed to be chirping. I thought, how nice, someone’s sent one of those mechanical birds, but when I uncapped the cloth that covered it, I realized that there were no mechanical birds, but two beautiful white doves or pigeons and they were very much alive.

Together with the birds was a lovely and heartfelt note thanking me for the poem and telling me that he had been touched by it. Also, there was a book about exotic birds and bird food for an entire year.

I took the box with the birds to the yard and named them “Billie Jean” and “Bad“.

One night an animal that roamed the house attacked “Bad“, and I thought that being so close, soon Billie Jean would die with a broken heart. As a tribute to his indomitable spirit, “Billie Jean” continues chirping five years later. Keep on singing, sweet bird.

Sadly, Michael never had the opportunity to sit with me to put music to the poem, and I’ve just kept it in my files. I hope it can send an inspirational message to the world … something that Michael always tried to do with his music, his charity, and his life. My friend Michael is gone too soon, but his light will never fade.

Rest easy, dear soul. “Buzzie Wuzzie” (this is what Michael always called me)

Remembrance
by Buz Kohan

Big storm blowing
Danger growing
Wind coming up from
Every side
Air is filed with
Flying objects
No relief
No place to hide

Fury follows
Shaking, breaking
Taking charge
Complete control
Whirling, swirling,
All around me
Trying to
Destroy my soul

All so senseless
I’m defenseless
Caugth in a frenzy
Wipped and tossed
Pushed and shoved and
Smashed and bashed
When all is chaos
All is lost

More harsh raids
Resistance fades
I am alone, wind-
Blown and beat
Wind, you win
I must give in now
In disgrace, I
Face defeat

The, from way off
In the distance
There comes a tiny
Shaft of light
Growing brighter
Growing lighter
Shinning through the
Endless night

From a tiny
Ray of sunshine
There comes a brilliant
Amber glow
Touching all that
Comes before it
As I watch it
Grow and grow

With the sunlight
Comes the voices
All getting louder
More intense
Speaking to me
Pain and anguish
Let the healing
Now commence

Let the truth
Emerge before us
Let all the lies be
Drowned in shame
Let the storm
At last disperse to
Clear the air and
Clear my name

You, my friends you
All sustain me
There to defend when
I’m attacked
You restore my
Faith and courage
When the mirror
Has been cracked

You surround me
With your passion
Guiding my steps when
I’m unsure
Through your love I’m
Wrapped in sunlight
Once again I
Feel secure

For your faith, I
Make this promise
I shall not fail your
Trust, I swear
No disaster
Can destroy me
Long as I know
How much you care
Long as I know
Your love
Is
There!

I noticed a correlation between the “two birds” Buz received from Michael, and Michael’s poem from Dancing the Dream, called “Two Birds“. In Michael’s poem, he writes of one bird who watches invisibly and silently and whose voice Michael longs to be heard in his songs.

Michael is gone now, much like one of the birds Michael gifted to Buz, but the other bird still lives. Michael’s soul still lives on in his music. How many people “discovered” Michael after he died? From what I hear, quite a few. How many more deepened their understanding and knowledge of Michael after he died? Probably millions.

 

Here is Michael’s poem “Two Birds

It´s hard to tell them what I feel for you.
They haven´t ever met you, and no one has your picture.
So how can they ever understand your mystery?

Let´s give them a clue:
Two birds sit in a tree.
One eats cherries, while the other looks on.
Two birds fly though the air.
One’s song drops like crystal from the sky while the other keeps silent.
Two birds wheel in the sun.
One catches the light on it’s silver feathers, while the other spreads wings of invisibility.

It´s easy to guess which bird I am, but they´ll never find you.
Unless . . .
Unless they already know a love that never interferes, that watches from beyond, that breathes free in the invisible air.
Sweet bird, my soul, your silence is so precious.
How long will it be before the world hears your song in mine?

Oh, that is a day I hunger for!

I think that day arrived on June 25th, 2009. We often think of physical death as a sad, dark thing – a bad time. And it is for those who are left behind. But what if it is something that set Michael free from the anguish of this life? What if it means his soul can finally be heard in his songs without all the other distractions and noise of endless scandals and allegations and smarmy tabloid rumors? What if this means that now he can be appreciated in the way he always deserved to be appreciated?

Of course it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that this appreciation for Michael’s music and his artistry and himself as a human being and a humanitarian was not present in his life. But he’s finally free from the confines of all that. His song still lives – his soul is still very much alive in his music. To me, that’s what “Two Birds” is about.  I think he wanted that level of appreciation when he was alive.

I saw what I’ll always believe was a physical manifestation of Michael flying away after he died. I watched in amazement as a stunning blue heron flew in and slowly walked around a beautiful glasslike pond in July 2009 as I sat on a bench nearby. The bird flew off when a couple with a camera got too close – another metaphor for the lack of privacy Michael experienced in his life. When he flew away, he was free from that. This was one of the most incredibly beautiful things I’d ever seen. I had the distinct feeling that this meant Michael was finally free of it all while the other bird, his soul, still lives – never interfering, watching from beyond, breathing free in the invisible air. How long will it be before the world hears his soul’s song? We can hear it now. Just put on the music.

With Buz Kohan and with Michael, there were Two Birds. And one still lives. Keep singing, sweet bird.

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Jan 20 2012

A Legend and an Angel: “I will see you again and we’ll dance on the sky.”

Category: Angels,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 11:58 am

"A Legend and an Angel"

I ran across this really touching tribute to Michael from Gendance (Generation Dance). They have a memorial page dedicated to the memory of Michael Jackson where dancers shared their feelings about their mentor. Here is a smattering of the feelings they shared. The last one is particularly beautiful. Visit Gendance’s MJ Memorial Page for more.

Let me start by saying that without the inspiration you have given me in my life I would never have become the human being and artist I am today. I remember dancing in my room to “Beat It” with the door closed while wearing my sequined glove. This memory will stay with me for as long as I live. It was your energy, artistry, compassion and commitment that drove me to go after my dreams. You were boundless and proved that anyone from any walk could achieve their what they desire through self belief and dedication. My fondest childhood memory was working with you in 1991 on the MTV 10th anniversary special. You were so kind and personable with me. I will cherish that experience forever!

Thank you so much Michael for being my idol and blessing the world with more than anyone could imagine. You are a legend and an angel. I know you will continue to watch over us all and inspire from above.
~Brian Friedman

Michael Jackson is more than just an extraordinary, fantastic dancer. He is Music, he is Voice, he is Movement, he is Soul. Gifted beyond words and a timeless gift to humanity.
~Dorit Koppel, Broadway Dance Center

I believe MJ was chosen by God to change a generation, bring them into their calling and break racial barriers and color lines. His work has opened doors for so many to achieve their hearts desires!!! Thank you Michael for being my greatest artistic inspiration!
~Keeley “LockN’ Key” Kaukimoce

Even in the distance, your legacy and compassion is a gift to the world. Your music inspired me to give, feel and dream. No time will be long enough to forget you, no gossip will be evil enough to break you. I will see you again and we’ll dance on the sky. May your inspiration help us change the world into a world with true peace, love and tolerance. We are part of you, you are part of us, you will forever be my music hero.
~Edwin Fion

To these remembrances, Michael might respond as follows:

~~~

You and I were never separate
It’s just an illusion
Wrought by the magical lens of
Perception

There is only one Wholeness
Only one Mind
We are like ripples
In the vast Ocean of Consciousness

Come, let us dance
The Dance of Creation
Let us celebrate
The Joy of Life

The birds, the bees
The infinite galaxies
Rivers, Mountains
Clouds and Valleys
Are all a pulsating pattern
Living, breathing
Alive with cosmic energy

Full of Life, of Joy
This Universe of Mine
Don’t be afraid
To know who you are
You are much more
Than you ever imagined

You are the Sun
You are the Moon
You are the wildflower in bloom
You are the Life-throb
That pulsates, dances
From a speck of dust
To the most distant star

And you and I
Were never separate
It’s just an illusion
Wrought by the magical lens of
Perception

Let us celebrate
The Joy of Life
Let us dance
The Dance of Creation

Curving back within ourselves
We create
Again and again
Endless cycles come and go
We rejoice
In the infinitude of Time

There never was a time
When I was not
Or you were not
There never will be a time
When we will cease to be

Infinite — Unbounded
In the Ocean of Consciousness
We are like ripples
In the Sea of Bliss

You and I were never separate
It’s just an illusion
Wrought by the magical lens of
Perception
Heaven is Here

Right now is the moment
of Eternity
Don’t fool yourself
Reclaim your Bliss

Once you were lost
But now you’re home
In a nonlocal Universe
There is nowhere to go From Here to Here
Is the Unbounded
Ocean of Consciousness
We are like ripples
In the Sea of Bliss

Come, let us dance
The Dance of Creation
Let us celebrate
The Joy of Life

And You and I were never separate
It’s just an illusion
Wrought by the magical lens of
Perception

Heaven is Here
Right now, this moment of Eternity
Don’t fool yourself
Reclaim your Bliss

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Jan 17 2012

Christmas in July With Michael Jackson

Category: Children,Friends,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 10:17 pm

With Caryn Elefante on the far right.

by Caryn Elefante at Elefante Music

From the time I was five years old I have been singing in studios all over NYC for commercials, demos and even music albums. One day, my mother got a call from our contractor booking us for a recording at the Hit Factory. We weren’t allowed to know for whom we were singing and we were only allowed one parent per child. Our interest was peaked. We spent the next few days trying to figure out who this mystery recording could be for. We decided to bring three CD covers with us- Frank Sinatra (he was still alive at the time), Madonna and Michael Jackson.

We went to the studio and some guy told us we were going to be singing one word… “Childhood”. He sang it for us once or twice then began recording. All we heard in the cans (headphones) were tracks with no lead vocal. We still couldn’t figure out what or whom this was for. After singing the one word a few times, I saw a man behind the glass in the recording studio step forward out of the darkness with a black hat, a red shirt and a black curl in front of his face. On the talkback we heard, “Can you sing it a little more like this… Childhood” As soon as I heard the voice I grabbed my sister’s hand and spoke without moving my lips “It’s MICHAEL JACKSON!!!!”

I cooly sang “Childhood” about a dozen more times and the engineer thanked us and said we were done. We went back to the green room where our parents were waiting and I grabbed the Bad album cover from my mom and brought it to Michael’s assistant. I asked her if she could please bring it to Michael and have him sign it. The other kids who sang with us began ripping little pieces of paper for him to sign. They were no where near as prepared as my family!!

The assistant said “Let me see what I can do”, and she disappeared for about five minutes. She came back and said, “Can I have all of the kids follow me?” We followed her to a door in the Hit Factory that had a star on it and said “Jackson”. We went into the room and there he was, greeting us at the door with a hand shake and a smile and telling us that it was a pleasure to meet us. Can you imagine? A pleasure to meet us?? His room was filled with some pretty strange things: life-size cut-outs of the Power Rangers, a train set, and a giant globe that rotated. He had pictures of children that he had helped attached to the country they were from.

Michael had many questions for us like if any of us went to camp for the summer. He said that he always asked his parents if he could go to summer camp because it looked like so much fun and of course they told him no!! This was right around the time when the media was questioning whether or not he had married Lisa Marie Presley. I noticed a ring on his hand and I said, “so does that ring mean you are married to Lisa Marie?” He nodded his head yes and said “shhhhhh”. We chatted for a while, he signed our album cover and we went home having what I thought was the greatest day of my life.

A week or two later my mother got another call from our contractor. This time she said Michael wanted to have us back to the studio to record a Christmas song. It was July but when we got to the studio, it was decorated for the holidays. There was snow all over the ground, a tree, Santa who gave us all presents (we each got a Gameboy… tells you how long ago this was!!) and reindeer. Michael came walking right into the studio this time and didn’t hide behind the glass. I guess he felt more comfortable with us this time. He taught us the song himself and stayed with us in the sound booth as we were singing it. After we recorded the song he invited our parents into the studio and had the whole thing catered. We sat around the piano as he played the piano and we all sang Christmas songs. It’s just like Christmas Eve at the Elefante’s (my in-laws)!!!

So on June 25th, when the whole world was in shock of Michael Jackson’s death, these were the memories that all came flooding back for me.

SOURCE: http://elefantemusic.blogspot.com/2009/07/personal-story-about-michael-jackson.html

NOTE: I’m not sure what the Christmas song was. One of Michael’s sound engineers (Rob Hoffman) says: “We recorded a Christmas song during the summer of ’94 that needed a children’s choir. Michael insisted that the entire studio be decorated with xmas lights, tree, fake snow and a sled for their recording. And he bought presents for everyone.

_ _ _

[ Thanks so much once again to “UK Loves MJ” for finding these wonderful stories!  -Seven ]

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Jan 16 2012

Michael knew his musical gift needed no intellectual embellishment. It came to him already perfected.

Category: MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 10:51 pm

Michael with George and Michael Atwell

I want to share a story from someone who had worked with Michael back in the days of Thriller. This is from George Atwell, who at the time was a staff recording producer at Bee Jay Recording Studios in Orlando. George remembers fans trying to bribe bodyguards to see Michael, how the tiger on the cover of the Thriller album was ‘biting the heck‘ out of Michael, and why Michael said he didn’t want to learn to read music. George clearly remembers, as have many others who worked with him, how astonishing Michael’s musical genius and talent was. Even Michael himself knew that his gift needed no intellectual embellishment. It came to him already perfected.

George says that Jackson impressed him with his professionalism, his ability to perform musically with precision, his kindness and his childlike enthusiasm. If there was a dark, odd side, to his personality, Atwell says, Jackson never displayed it. Atwell did some of the work on the Jackson tracks (which have never been released to his knowledge) at Jackson’s private suite at Disney’s Royal Plaza.

After “Thriller” was released and had become so hugely popular, Michael Jackson came to Orlando on vacation and through mutual musician friends in LA and Orlando, he asked us to help him do 4 demos of songs that were in his head. I was staff producer at Bee Jay Recording studios in Orlando at the time, and we gathered up keyboards, Linn Drum machine, guitar, and bass and the 4 of us met him at the Royal Plaza hotel (on the 13thfloor).

He was extremely nice, polite, and concerned that we were OK…..not too tired, do you want any food, etc. He was endorsing Pepsi at the time and the first thing we saw in the sink were 3 large Pepsi bottles…..a true endorsee! Since Michael didn’t read music, he took each of us one by one, into a work/music room and went over each part until he got what he wanted to hear. He would sing the part and we’d play it back and then modify it, change voicings, chord structures, etc. until he’d say: “yes, that’s it! Incidentally there was a guard seated outside his room and while we were working into the wee hours, we could hear the elevator ring all night as fans tried to come up and get a glimpse of Michael. They would try to bribe the guard with anything (use your imagination!) to let them in, but he, of course wouldn’t.

In this way we worked out the tunes at the hotel; then took everything to the recording studio, where we laid down all the tracks and he would then sing over them. The thing I remember most about those sessions, was the fact that vocally, he never missed! The only time they had to roll the tape back was if the engineer was late on a punch in or something technical went wrong.

He sang the lead vocals and all 3 background vocal parts, stacking them 3 times each and never missed. He didn’t go to the piano and work out the vocal backgrounds (as is usually done), but simply pulled the parts out of the air! The incredible “feel” and sense of rhythm of his “finger snaps” while he was doing the “guide tracks” for us to work from is forever indelible in my brain. There was a very precise “groove spot’ in relation to the beat that only he seemed to know how to find. At the studio we all sat in the TV lounge and watched the premier of “Thriller” on MTV. He was just like a little kid….couldn’t believe this video was playing on MTV, couldn’t believe “Thriller” the album, was #1 on the charts….and this after his many #1 hits in his career up until that time (he was 24).

I asked him why he didn’t learn to read music and he replied: God had given him this gift and he was afraid that learning too much about the intellectual side of music would mess it up.” He had a traveling companion, an elderly gentleman that he said had been with him for 16 years, and loved to tease him and play jokes on him if he fell asleep, etc. He received daily edits of the Thriller video from LA and we watched them together. The first time, he had us all gather around the TV, got popcorn, and snacks, drinks, etc. ready and when he played the tape he found to his horror that a house guest had taped the 11:00 news over the video! He was so embarrassed and kept saying how sorry he was, and he couldn’t see how this could happen, etc., so he invited all back to see it the next night. He thought the world of John Landis and Quincy Jones, though he did say he and Quincy got into it because Quincy didn’t want “Billie Jean” on the album…didn’t think the tune was strong enough or something. Well, we all know who prevailed on that issue!

We have very fond memories of that time when Michael was unaffected by riches and fame, was a truly caring and wonderful person to be around. My son, Michael (who played and programmed the Linn Drum machine) was 14 at the time and this was his very first paying recording session……..what a way to start your resume! We have great pictures with him and of course an autographed copy of “Thriller.” He pointed out to us the tendons bulging in his arm from having to hold the baby tiger so tight because it was biting the heck out of him!

Good-bye Michael. . . You will be missed, but for those who had the privilege of working and knowing you, your “presence” will never be forgotten.

-George Atwell

SOURCE: http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment_music_blog/2009/06/george-atwell-recorded-with-michael-jackson-in-orlando.html

People ask me how I make music. I tell them I just step into it. It’s like stepping into a river and joining the flow. Every moment in the river has its song. . . . But for me the sweetest contact with God has no form. I close my eyes, look within, and enter a deep soft silence. The infinity of God’s creation embraces me. . . . Each song is a child I nourish and give my love to. But even if you have never written a song, your life is a song. How can it not be? . . . To live is to be musical, starting with the blood dancing in your veins. Everything living has a rhythm. Do you feel your music?

― Michael Jackson

Michael also said: “The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.” I hope Michael knew that he too was one of them. And people like George Atwell were very fortunate to be able to watch Michael at work.

_ _ _

[ Thanks to ‘UK Loves MJ’ for sharing this story on their Facebook page! -Seven ]

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