‘Michael Forever’: Controversial Tribute Was Held in Cardiff

Chart-toppers, soul singers and three generations of Michael Jackson’s family – including his children – celebrated the King of Pop at an energetic tribute concert Saturday, urging fans to focus on the late star’s music rather than his death.

The family of Michael Jackson celebrate following the 'Michael Forever' concert in memory of the late Michael Jackson at The Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales on October 8, 2011. Photo: Diario El Universo/Flickr

Musical stars – Christina Aguilera, Gladys Knight, and Cee Lo Green among them – performed Jackson’s songs. The selection of songs covered those from his childhood, when he was one of the Jackson 5, and those from his solo albums, such as “Thriller” and “Bad”.

“We’re very happy to be here on this special night to honor our father,” said Jackson’s 13-year-old daughter Paris, who made a brief on stage appearance alongside brothers Prince, 14, and 9-year-old Michael Joseph Jr., known as Blanket.

The children wore outfits evoking their father’s famous styles –Parismost strikingly, in a red and black “Thriller”-style jacket. Blanket stood stoic and shy, but the older children smiled and appeared confident in the spotlight.

Leona Lewis sang “I’ll Be There,” and Beyonce sang “I Wanna Be Where You Are.” In addition, Jamie Foxx covered “Rock With You,” Knight did “Gone Too Soon,” and Aguilera sang Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.” The four-hour show closed with “Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough,” delivered by an ensemble cast.

The “Michael Forever” show has stirred controversy. Many of his fans and some of his family members criticized the timing of the show because it took place while a Los Angeles court is engaged with the involuntary-manslaughter trial of his personal physician. Once the show started, however, all those criticisms appeared to be forgotten, and the whole event seemed to be a true tribute to the musical genius.

The concert has divided the King of Pop’s family and followers. The three brothers, sister La Toya and vocal group 3T – composed of three of Michael’s nephews – all performed, while 81-year-old matriarch Katherine was in the audience.

But Michael’s brothers Jermaine and Randy and sister Janet have stayed away, saying it is wrong to hold the show at the same time as Murray’s trial.

Before the show, Marlon Jackson said he respected his siblings’ decision, but said he was sure Michael would have approved.

“Each one of us grieves differently,” he said. “We want to celebrate the positive side of his life, the positive things that he did.”

Participants urged fans to ignore the criticism and controversy, and to revel in the celebration ofJackson’s musical legacy.

“It’s not about the controversy,” said R&B star Ne-Yo, who kicked off the show with a rendition of “Billie Jean,” complete with some passable moonwalking. “It’s not about the trial. It’s not about his death. It’s about celebrating his life. It’s about celebrating his music.”

Some fan groups around also criticized the show for ticket prices that started at about $100 and for what some regard as an out-of-the-way location in Cardiff,150 miles(240 kilometers) west of London.

“I believe it should wait, not only because of the Murray trial,” said Wesley Noorhoff, president of a Dutch Michael Jackson fan club. “If you do a tribute to Michael, it has to be the best there is, just like Michael.” [via Huff Post and International Business Times]

 

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