Had Michael Jackson not met his untimely death two years ago, he would have been 53 years old today. How time flies!
Despite the controversy that dogged him, it never could overshadow his genius. Michael was the consummate performer, a hands-on perfectionist.
I grew up on Michael. One summer when I was still living in Jamaica, a few of my American cousins came home for holidays and brought the Jackson 5’s music with them. It was my introduction to Michael. I learned ABC and I Want You Back and sang them over and over. From then on, I had to have every song the Jackson 5 sang.
I had little my heart broken when Michael sang Ben – I just knew he was singing to me. To this day, when I hear it, I remember how I felt then and I have to fight back tears. Michael’s music touched many of us.
I was sad when the Jackson 5 stopped performing as a group but the music Michael made thrilled and excited me. When he broke MTV’s ‘color barrier’ in 1983 with Billie Jean, my cousins and I would race each other to the television just so we could get another chance to practice his moves.
Two years ago, I was in a bar with a group of colleagues – we had gathered to say goodbye to someone who had been assigned to one of our branches overseas. In the midst of the event, I’m not sure how he got our attention, someone broke the news that Michael had died. A hush fell over the room immediately. I remember leaving shortly after.
Arriving home, my neighbor called and we went to the Apollo for an impromptu gathering. We sang and danced and cried. It was difficult to accept that the King of Pop was no longer with us.
Last year in Johannesburg, my friends and I were part of another impromptu gathering to celebrate the first anniversary of Michael’s death. We rearranged the furniture and danced to his music.
I have so many Michael Jackson favorites, it was difficult to pick one song.
Happy Birthday, Michael – the Man in the Mirror.