By Deardra Shuler
No matter what one personally thinks of Michael Jackson there is no denying he was a musical genius the likes this world will never see again. Not because there aren’t or wont be other geniuses to follow but because he was unique unto himself. He was aloof yet caring having donated numerous amounts of money to charities. There is a price to pay for genius in this world because it sets one apart and puts one in the position of being original in a world that is trapped into a programmed mindset that seeks to attack or tear down those who stand above the status quo. Michael Jackson was an original; a child man who maintained a degree of innocence so that his art form tapped into a untethered purity imbued with wonderment and imagination. Because his heart was so pure it could not withstand the cruel accusations and betrayals of those who sought to see his love for children as something vile or his whitened skin as something more than his affliction with the disease Vitiligo.
King Michael had the Midas touch when it came to music, dance and fashion and he was an astute businessman as well. Once on stage, Jackson was thrilling and mind blowing.
The seventh child of the Jackson family, Michael debuted with his brothers as part of the Jackson 5 in the mid 1960’s until he went solo in 1971. He went on to become an immense figure in the entertainment business obtaining crossover appeal for his records and videos like “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and “Thriller.” In fact, “Thriller” is the best selling album of all time with “Off the Wall,” “HiStory,” “Bad” and “Dangerous” a close second. Michael captured 13 Grammy Awards, 13 No. 1 singles in the U.S., 26 American Music Awards and held the distinction of “Artist of the Century” and “King of Pop.” Mr. Jackson sold an estimated 750 million records worldwide.
MJ Impersonators Michael Firestone, Pete Carter and 11-year-old Ivan Kelly will be depicting the various stages of Michael Jackson’s career at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, the Bronx, on Saturday, June 26th (the day after the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s passing on June 25, 2009 due to cardiac arrest) in tribute to Michael Jackson: The King of Pop.
“This is a never seen before or again production. It will be like no other. We have all-star dancers performing unbelievable dance numbers to Jackson’s many songs. We will have the GospeLive choir doing harmonies. There will be Djs, percussionists, video jockeys and of course our three well respected Michael Jackson impersonators and tribute artists,” said Steve Love the producer. “We plan on a few surprises. This will be an extravaganza. Tickets are going fast so get them early,” continued Love.
“It takes me all day to prepare to do a Michael Jackson show. I start 6 hours before the show to get my voice ready,” said impersonator Michael Firestone. “It takes about 3 hours to transform into Jackson. I have to white out my face completely and erase my own features with makeup. No one has Michael Jackson’s eyes so I have to start with my eyes since eyes are the window to who you are. Once I get his eyes correct, I start on the cheekbones. Michael wore lip liner to conceal the Vitiligo. Usually the disease centers around the eyes, mouth area and hands. Its a gradual change in coloration over time. Thus, Michael had varying shades of coloration which he evened out with heavy makeup as his skin tone gradually whitened. Michael attempted to deal with his disease privately but when folks criticized him he finally revealed his affliction. But still many people didn’t believe him. In order to transform into Michael, I have studied his life and in some ways channel his persona and psyche. There is always someone in the crowd who is a heckler but since Michael passed the audience has been nice. I hope people will continue to be kind to Michael’s memory and to his children,” said Firestone who performs in Las Vegas and across the country. “I met Michael once in person all of 5 minutes but then later he called and we talked awhile. I had purchased up front tickets to catch the “This Is It,” concert in England but of course Michael died before he was able to do his farewell concerts.”
Child prodigy Ivan Kelley (aka Lil’ Man) is reminiscent of a young Michael Jackson. As a result of Kelley’s appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show, he was invited to tour with hip hop artist Acon. “It’s very rare to find a young person whose voice is so similar to the young Michael. I like to think that Michael would be very proud of these impersonators who pay tribute to him,” remarked the show producer.
“I am working on the dance tributes to Michael. We will be doing many of his popular routines,” said Pete Carter who met Jackson several times. “I have been to Neverland and visited Michael in L.A., when he was rehearsing the “This Is It” London concert. I’ve been impersonating him for 10 years. I last saw him in April 2009. Michael was such a sweet person. He truly loved his fans and took the time to sign autographs whenever asked. In fact, he signed his signature on my back and I immediately had it permanently tattooed there. Michael was excited about doing the “This Is It” concerts. He was feeling good although he was thinner than I had ever seen him before. I felt his bones when we hugged and this surprised me. I look forward to performing at Lehman Center because everyone wants to truly honor Michael as the great “King of Pop’” said the renowned MJ impersonator.
Interested parties can call the Lehman Center Box Office at 718-960-8833 or go online at www.LehmanCener.org for tickets.