Michael Jackson’s public memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA was an emotional celebration of the life that he lived. He was honored for being a man of great accomplishment and a kind humanitarian. The “King of Pop” was seen by about 20,000 guests (family and fans) while the rest of the world watched on television and over the Internet. Fans were able to attend the ceremonies by obtaining tickets via winning a lottery. Fans logged onto the Internet and entered a random lottery where winners were notified by e-mail. They were then asked to bring their confirmation email down to Dodger Stadium where they would show ticket handlers and they would then receive two tickets and two wristbands.
The heartfelt and emotional memorial was a great demonstration of the amount of love that people had for this man. Despite the negative reviews about his personal life, Michael Jackson lived most of his life helping others and that’s what the focus of this memorial was all about. I watched the memorial on television at home as I wished that I could be there, but watching it at home allowed me to cry without anyone watching. However, since I’m telling you now about it, it was a manly cry.
Special guest appearances at the memorial were as follows:
Pastor Lucious Smith – he opened the memorial service by telling viewers that around the world Michael was seen as an idol, hero, and even a king. Smith also stated that Michael through his words, music, and good deeds tried to heal our world. His testimony was very warm and comforting.
Mariah Carey and Trey Lorenz – both sang a duet to “I’ll Be There”. I remember listening to this song in the early 90s which was originally sung by Michael Jackson (Jackson 5) in 1970. Mariah Carey sang this song with back then background vocals Trey Lorenz. Both sounded good, but not quite as good as Mariah’s album version. Nonetheless, this is probably one of my favorite songs.
Queen Latifah – spoke about Michael and her early years when her and her brother bought an album with Dancing Machine and they tried to dance and be like the Jackson 5. She also read a poem written by Maya Angelou. The poem was entitled “We Had Him”. Very touching poem and makes one proud to have known him and to be able to have him within our midst. Maya Angelou attended my high school, George Washington H.S. which overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge.
Lionel Richie – sang “Jesus is Love” in tribute to Michael. Lionel sang this song while he was with The Commodores. He wrote “We are the World” with Michael. Lionel is another talented singer that I’ve blessed to have listened to while growing up.
Berry Gordy – a record producer and the founder of Motown signed Michael Jackson with the Jackson 5 in 1968. He told viewers that the Jackson 5 are the only group to have their first four records to reach number one on the charts. Those songs were “I Want You Back”, “ABC”, “The Love You Save”, and “I’ll Be There”. He went on to say that Michael Jackson is “simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived.”
Stevie Wonder – gave a few brief words before singing “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer”. Stevie Wonder is another amazing artist.
Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson - Bryant shared briefly of Michael and his record breaking talent and he even made the Guinness Book of World Records for most charities supported by a pop star. Johnson shared about his life growing up knowing the Jacksons while he was with the Lakers about 30 years ago. He went on to share about the time when Michael asked him to be a part of the music video “Remember The Time”. Johnson also recalled going over to his house to talk about the video and the chef asked what Johnson would like to eat and he asked for grilled chicken, when dinner was served Johnson got grilled chicken while Jackson got Kentucky Fried Chicken. He jokingly said that he didn’t know that Michael Jackson eats this type of food. Johnson finished up his eulogy stating that Michael opened up the doors for Black people all over the world.
Jennifer Hudson – sang “Will You Be There”. This song was featured in Michael’s Dangerous album and for the movie Free Willy.
Rev. Al Sharpton – gave a great eulogy for Michael. He told everyone that Michael lived his life making so many achievements. He opened the doors when the doors were not opened yet. He had powerful influence on the world and helped change the world. Sharpton went on to say it’s not about his mess, but it’s about his love message. Sharpton made a great illustration on Michael’s life that truly gave a sense of inspiration and that was when he said, “As you climb up steep mountains sometimes you scar your knee, sometime you break your skin, but don’t focus on the scar, focus on the journey…” Sharpton gave truly the best eulogy the entire service. One of his closing remarks was directed at Michael’s children and he wanted to let them know that “it wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy, it was strange what your daddy had to deal with, but he dealt with it… he dealt with it anyway, he dealt with it for us.”
John Mayer – had no words to say but he played electric guitar to an instrumental to Michael Jackson’s song “Human Nature”.
Brooke Shields – reminisced about the years of her life when she use to hang out with Michael. Brooke said that both him and herself had to grow up fast and be adults and a young age. However, whenever they were around each other they would be like kids. She told us that she had never danced, collaborated or sang together, but what they both shared together was laughter. She gave examples of moments where they’d laugh together and Michael being his mischievous self. She went on to share that Michael’s favorite song was a song written by Charlie Chaplin for a movie called Modern Times. That song is entitled “Smile”. The song was first recorded by Nat King Cole and later by others including Michael himself.
Jermaine Jackson – came on the stage to sing Michael’s favorite song “Smile”.
Martin Luther King Jr. III and Bernice King – both gave some kind words to family and friends. Martin made an important remark that “…if you cannot be a sun, then be a star, for it isn’t by size that you win or you fail, you got to be the best of what you are.”
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee – commemorated Jackson by honoring him with House Resolution 600. It was to commemorate his humanitarian efforts to help change this world. Following the memorial House Resolution 600 was put on hold by House leader Nancy Pelosi until it receives further legislation that is needed for it to pass.
Usher – performed one of Michael’s songs called “Gone Too Soon”. As Usher performed he emotionally broke down, while singing still wonderfully. I too broke down and cried almost twice listening and watching. It is a very touching and emotional song that keeps me choked even now. The lyrics are just very touching and it is so applicable to this situation. It’s a song that I would not like to hear at memorial services for it is very intense.
Short video of The Ed Sullivan Show – The Jackson 5 sung a song entitled “Who’s Loving You?” As the song is sung Michael sings with a fluffy pink hat while his brother sing and back up dance.
Smokey Robinson – speaks about the song that was just played in the previous segment. Robinson says that he wrote that song. He wrote it and Berry Gordy introduced him to the Jackson 5 who would later sing it. Robinson said that it was a little weird to see Michael Jackson at age 10 sing his song of a situation about what an older person might experience in his life. Robinson told about a funny situation where he would sing “Who’s Loving You?” at concerts and young kids would come up to him and ask him if he’s singing one of Michael Jackson’s song. I laughed after hearing that comment because it’s so funny how we often forget about the song writers, but we don’t forget about who sings a song. Robinson concluded that he was glad that he was born in this era where he could inevitably see the greatest entertainer of all times.
Shaheen Jafargholi – from Britain’s Got Talent sang “Who’s Loving You?”. Shaheen following the song went on to say that he loves Michael Jackson and that he thanks him for blessing him and everyone with his amazing music.
Kenny Ortega – is a producer, director, and choreographer. He helped create and direct Michael’s latest tour that was going to start in July in London, but of course that did not happen. The name of the tour is ironically titled This Is It. Ortega introduced Shaheen to the world by telling viewers that he was invited by Michael Jackson to join the tour in London and that Ortega thanked Shaheen for coming all the way out to the U.S. for this occasion. Ortega went on to share that it was just about a week ago where he can recall that it was in the Staples Center where Michael and the rest of the cast and crew were there practicing. He thought that what better place to have a memorial service than to have it in Michael’s house. Nevertheless, Ortega helped put together the memorial service. After the short eulogy, Ortega invited out some of the cast from the This Is It concerts in London to come out and sing. The two songs that they performed were “We are the World” and “Heal the World”. During “Heal the World” close family, friends, guest performers, and some children came together in one unified group and sang to one of Michael’s most favorite part about the tour.
Jermaine, Marlon, and Paris Jackson – gave some kind words on behalf of the family. Jermaine thanked everyone for attending and he was lost for words, but he was Michael’s backbone throughout everything. Marlon emotionally shared and wondered why Michael had to be called away so soon. He recalls a moment of their childhood trying to watch the Three Stooges before mom had to tell them that it was time to go to the recording studio. He then went on to reminisce about a time when he caught Michael in a record store dressed up as an old man buying up all the CDs. Michael then questioned Marlon how he knew it was Michael. He answered it was because of his shoes that he was wearing. I almost came to tears when Marlon continued to say, “We will never understand what he endured, not being able to walk across the street without a crowd gathering around him, being judged, ridiculed. How much pain can one take? Maybe now Michael they will leave you alone.” Marlon had one request of Michael and that was to give twin brother Brandon Jackson a hug. Brandon was still born during Marlon’s birth and so he never had a chance in this world. Paris, Michael Jackson’s daughter requested to speak to the audience. She said, “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just want to say that I love him so much.” With that said she broke down in tears and Jermaine closed out the memorial service.
Spotlight on empty mic stand – spoke thousands of words. Nothing could describe a mic without a singer.
Pastor Lucious Smith – came back onto the stage to close in prayer.
Some say that this memorial was a production in itself and that it was cheesy, but I think that it was a great celebration for the life that he lived. With all the achievements and humanitarian efforts that he contributed to this world. I think if anything that this production falls no way near what he deserves. If you ask me the celebration should have lasted hours and hours and with representatives from each nation that he touched.
In closing the only thing I can say now is that may Michael Jackson rest in peace. May he not be the center of gossip and discussion. May a little bit of his life and influence be continually living within all of us.
In Loving Memory of
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)