September 27, 2010
Columbia College Chicago´s Center for Black Music Research
has presented a conference on the art of Michael Jackson´s
music. It was held in Chicago on September 23 - 25th.
Genius Without Borders: Michael Jackson
Ěhas presented scholars, critics and Jackson associates
discussing the art, life, and times of the King of Pop. It sounds
like it was a magnificent event honoring and remembering Michael
in the way he truly deserves to be honored and remembered.
First impresions of Genius Without Borders
Analyzing Michael Jackson: The genius behind the music
by Howard Reich
12:51 p.m. CDT, September 27, 2010
Was Michael Jackson a genius? No doubt about it, according to
experts who convened over the weekend at the Harold Washington
Library Center to explore the topic.
For more than three uninterrupted hours, the Jackson aficionados
played audio tracks, showed video, traded anecdotes and otherwise
analyzed one of the most prolific careers in American music
albeit one cut short by the singer-songwriter's tragic
death last year, at age 50.
With a throng of Jackson admirers queuing up an hour in advance
on Friday night, the connoisseurs were preaching to the choir
and they did not shy away from the "g" word.
"He IS a genius," proclaimed reissues producer Harry
Weinger, refusing to revert to past tense.
By way of proof, Weinger played tracks from early Jackson recordings
many still unreleased drawing from Weinger's work
on forthcoming Motown and Jackson 5 catalog reissues. In one
excerpt after another, listeners heard Jackson as a child, singing
with remarkable prodigiousness.
The most shattering cut was an a cappella version of "Never
Can Say Goodbye," a pre-teen Jackson phrasing like a master.
Without the benefits of instrumental or rhythmic support, Jackson
easily keeps time, but he also finds ways to stretch it. He
unerringly holds his pitch, until he decides to bend it, for
The yearning intensity of Jackson's tone, the disarming "oohs"
and "aahs" he improvises at key moments in the song,
the silvery clarity of his high-pitched voice simply defy rational
explanation. No one under 12 can sing with such craft, ardor
and musical wisdom without the benefit of extraordinary gifts.
Jackson's talents, of course, eventually made him an object
of adoration around the globe, the crushing attention perhaps
explaining some idiosyncracies of his personality.
"The guy was painfully shy," said keyboardist Greg
Phillinganes, who recorded and toured prolifically with Jackson.
"You may wonder, 'How could he be so shy?'" asked
Phillinganes, pointing to a performer who appeared fearless
"If you were chased (by fans), and you had to run for your
life, if that's what you experience from 11, you would be a
little different, too."
The real Michael Jackson, explained Phillinganes, was the man
who stood before the microphone particularly in the recording
studio and let all that glorious music flow out of him,
without qualm or inhibition.
When Jackson was recording "She's Out of My Life,"
with Phillinganes on keyboard, they kept reworking and refining
the performance, the pianist remembered.
"And at the end of every take, he'd cry," said Phillinganes.
"And it was real."
All the panelists in the symposium, which was organized by the
Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago,
concurred that Jackson was thoroughly "hands-on" in
Though he didn't play instruments with the exception
of a rare turn on drums he routinely "would sing
percussion parts and bass lines" and other musical details,
recalled singer Siedah Garrett, who wrote "Man in the Mirror"
with Jackson and duetted with him on the single "I Just
Can't Stop Loving You."
Yet for all Jackson's involvement with musical and production
aspects of his recordings, he often would playfully wreak
havoc in the midst of sessions.
"Michael would make it his business to make other
artists mess up," recalled Garrett, with a laugh. "He
would sing his part. Then when I would sing my part, he would
throw peanuts or something at me.
"And Q (producer Quincy Jones) would say (to Garrett),
'You're wasting studio time!' "
The cumulative effect of all these insider recollections and
newly unearthed recordings proved quite moving, especially to
those in the audience who already revered Jackson.
"You gave me the soundtrack to my life," one observer
told those on the stage, a lineup that included Jackson drummer
Ricky Lawson and former record executive Ed Eckstein.
Toward the end of the evening, 79-year-old Oscar Walden Jr.,
a Chicago TV and radio producer, got up from his seat in the
crowd and, leaning on his cane, prepared to read a poem he had
written for Jackson.
"I love Michael," he told the crowd, which fell to
"He was a genius."
* * * * * * * * * * *
On Sunday 26th September 2010, Jeremy_Horn said:
My review of 'Genius Without Borders: The Genius Of Michael
Jackson' in Chicago. I hope you guys enjoy it. Hey you guys!
I wanted to write my review of this amazing event that I attended
at the Pritzker Auditorium at the Harold Washington Library
in Chicago. I definitely enjoyed this fantastic event! I want
to send a big congratulations to Dr. Monica Hairston O'Connell
for making this event spectacular.
The event started where Ed Eckstein, who became the 1st African-American
to be president of a major non-black owned record company to
address his audience about when he was a 11 year old boy, he
heard the 1st time the Jackson 5 song 'I Want You Back' was
played on the radio. Eckstein also stated that he attended The
Forum in 1970 and saw the Jackson 5 performed to a sold out
crowd, and girls were rushing the stage. He called the 'boys
from Gary, Indiana' the 'Black Beatles!'
Harry Weinger, who is Vice President Of A&R for Universal
Music Enterprises, was telling the audience of the catalogs
of Motown Records and unreleased material of the Jackson 5.
Weinger played an unreleased song from Michael titled 'Love
Trip', which was recorded by Diana Ross And The Supremes, and
towards the end of the song, Michael's vocals was pure perfection
at the age of 11. Weinger also told when J5 were at The Forum
in Ingelwood, CA, they were paid $20,000 for that one night,
which was top dollars at that time. He also stated when the
J5 ended the song 'I Want You Back,' Michael said to the sound
engineers to fix the amps. At the age of 11, he handled it like
a professional and made the audience realized he was a stage
veteran. Finally, Weinger played the acapella version of 'Never
Can Say Goodbye' and Michael's vocals was just amazing.
Then, Eckstein introduced the three panels guests. Ricky Lawson,
who was the drummer for Michael's 'Bad' and 'Dangerous' World
Tour; Greg Phillinganes, who helped produced The Jacksons' 'Destiny,'
'Triumph,' and 'Victory' albums. He was the musical director
for The Jacksons' 'Victory Tour' in 1984, Michael's 'Bad' and
'Dangerous' World Tour. And, @SiedahGarrett who wrote Michael's
'Man In The Mirror' and did a duet with Michael for 'I Just
Can't Stop Loving You' in 1987, had a standing ovation. They
even played the classic music video with Dennis Edwards, 'Don't
Look Any Further.'
Eckstein asked Lawson, Phillinganes, and Garrett about working
with Michael, and their answers were straight and represented
integrity of Michael's legacy in music. Lawson said that during
the 'Bad' and 'Dangerous' World Tour, his band were trying to
be 2/3 steps ahead of Michael; and to always work with instincts
and always trying. Phillinganes was discussing the demos that
Rod Temperton of Heatwave was making for Michael's 'Off The
Wall' and 'Thriller' and were legends. He also said that when
talking to Michael, he was painfully shy, because Michael was
chased by girls since the age of 11. He stated that during the
recording of 'She's Out Of My Life,' Michael cried. Phillinganes
also stated that Michael never played an instrument, but he
did see Michael play drums during The Jacksons' 'Destiny' album.
He also said to the audience that when they hear an acapella
version of 'Rock With You,' during the 'and when the groove
is dead and gone,' Michael was snapping his fingers. And, when
Michael was recording 'Leave Me Alone' for the 'Bad' album,
Michael liked static during the beginning of the songs. Garrett
started discussing how she met Michael in 1987 for the duet
'I Just Can't Stop Loving You' and how she came up with the
classic song, 'Man In The Mirror.' She was too hilarious and
a diva, but she was amazing!
I asked @SiedahGarrett a question on advice for up and coming
songwriters. She stated, 'Be persistent and always keep auditioning.'
She even asked me how old I was, I told her 'I'm 25 years old,'
and she said 'I feel old!' LOL Then, a 79 year old Black man
who's birthday was on June 25th, read a short poem titled 'Oh
Michael Boy' and received a standing ovation, because it was
emotional. Then, Garrett along with Phillinganes and Lawson
performed 'Man In The Mirror' and it was fantastic!
I enjoyed this event! When I came home, I saw a full moon
and a shining star, and said to that star, 'Thank you Michael
for being an inspiration and an influence in my life.'