Friday, June 26, 2009

The Thrill Is NOT Gone

Very shortly after the death of Michael Jackson was announced and confirmed on Thursday (June 25, 2009), I became very aware of one significant thing. And that is that I am one of only about eight people in the entire world who was never a fan of this music giant.

Don't get me wrong. I've never denied his worth, his genius, his status, or his talent. I've always been awed by the way Michael could move; especially as he matured in years. Even as a man in his forties, he seemed to have the energy level of entertainers half his age. So my lack of "fanhood" (if there is such a word) had nothing to do with Michael's gift. It probably had more to do with my upbringing than anything else.

As the daughter of two preachers who was raised in a home where only gospel music was allowed (unless you count the jingles that were heard on television commercials), I was never introduced to Michael in his early career. I never had a Jackson Five album or a Michael Jackson poster like most girls in my generation probably did. Even as I grew into adulthood and moved out on my own, I was never drawn to his music. To me, he was just another young, gifted, African American artist who had been blessed to make it big in the music industry.

Shame on me? No...not as far as I'm concerned. I was never drawn to what was labeled as "pop music." When I began venturing out and listening to secular music, I was far more drawn to jazz and to those men of music who were known for being romantic balladeers in the R&B arena. Everybody has the right to choose their favorite music and favorite artists, right? Last I checked, we still lived in America where we have the freedom to choose. To this day, the only album of Michael's that I own is "Thriller," and I forgot I owned that one until my husband reminded me just today. But with all of that being said, it still doesn't mean that I don't respect the larger-than-life image that Michael earned in his years as an artist. I do. I think he was one of the greatest entertainers to ever walk out on a stage. No one could light up a stage like he could. Let's face it: Michael Jackson was absolutely phenomenal! No one could command the attention that he could. With a single swing of his hip, or with one release of that famed high-pitched "Heee-Heee" of his, he could send a crowd into a frenzy. Grown men would be screaming like little girls. Grown women would be crying like babies. The Gheri Curl, the white glove, the high water pants, the leather jackets, the signature sunglasses....whew! It all would have looked crazy on the average brotha, but Michael pulled it off beautifully. Not to mention the Moonwalk! How'd he even think of creating that move? It was genius...pure genius. There was never another one before him, and there won't be one after him.

Though I haven't been a loyal follower of his music over the decades, one thing I have respected about him for years is his gift for writing. Michael knew how to write a song that told a story. Sometimes it was his story, and other times it may have been somebody else's story. But there always seemed to be a story behind his music, and as a writer, I definitely take my hat off to him for that. I find that the lyrics to many of the songs that top the music charts today are saying absolutely nothing. But when Michael Jackson sang, if you looked beyond the show-stopping dance steps and listened to the words, you would hear a story.

So for that, I wanted to take the time to salute the life and legacy of not just one of the greatest music geniuses of our time, but to salute the life and legacy of one of the greatest writers to have ever picked up a pen. The THRILLER himself may be gone, but the THRILL will continue to live on.


Cyncere said...

Perfectly stated!

The Writer Resource Pit: said...

Hey Kendra:

I truly respect your stance on MJ's legacy. Music is definitely a gray area in Christianity, so even within the body we all have different tastes and that's okay.

Although you didn't get to listen to him as a youth, I'm glad you were able to hear his music. It's just a shame that our youth today who only saw Michael in his latter years didn't get a chance to see Michael before all the drama in his life came about.

As you said, he's one of the greatest entertainers and writers to ever live. I just hope He knew Jesus.

If nothing else, this tragedy will give us the opportunity to share Christ with others.

Tiffany Godfrey, The Resource Writer
New Writer’s Workshop in Hampton, VA – Ask Me About it!

Michelle Stimpson said...

Kendra, thanks for your thoughts. I wasn't a huge MJ fan either, but there was no denying his talent. I feel the same way about Prince. I can only agree with Tiffany - in the end, your salvation is what really matters.

Biddy said...

You know I grew up in an era when MJ and the group first started out. I was heavily into music in those days I appreciated the talent that he possessed but when I came to the knowledge of Jesus Christ I lost track of the secular music. I would hear his name being mentioned but he was just like everybody else someone in the world who made his fortune off the sweat of the hard working public. I have sympathy for anyone who passes and their family but he was human just like everyone else and all the money and fame he had did not stop the death angel from knocking on his door. His family and friends will miss him and to those who called themseleves fans I say get over it because if you had passed he would not know it or expressed any sympathy one way or another. Be not concerned about the death but be concerned about where he will lift up his eyes in Heaven or Hell. Pray that he was saved when he passed and that his family get their lives in order because one day we will all have to make that journey.Appreciate the man and his talent but do not place him above God. Take care and be blessed . Peace and blessings to you. And to my sister remember I will always love you.

bruthaman said...

I was definitely a Michael Jackson fan! If I’d been the kind of kid who wore trendy and/or flashy clothes, I would have owned a glitter glove and socks.

My first memories of MJ were actually through Janet. At age 6 or 7, I was sitting on our living room floor and I saw Janet Jackson for the first time on the tv show, “Good Times.” She was a knock out! I remember my older family members mentioning how she was the younger sister of the Jackson 5. By that time Michael had a few solo albums under his belt but none of the music really stood out to me because I was so young. After that, I paid attention to the Jacksons, especially Michael.

So many of MJ’s singles and songs take me back to that time when the song was on the charts, starting with the “Off the Wall” album. I remember where I was the first time I heard “Billie Jean.” During the summer months, my cousin and I would leave the tv on the newly launched MTV channel all day long, waiting on them to play a MJ video. Back then, MTV only played music (no reality or game shows) and there were only a handful of Black artists in the rotation (Prince, Sade, Lionel Richie, Tina Turner & MJ). They would play a MJ video every 3 hours or so. I remember the nite he performed “Billie Jean” on the Motown 25th Anniversary special. By the time the “Thriller” video was released, the actual album had already broken so many records all over the word. The video was one of the first of its kind. Twenty-five years ago, a one million dollar video/short film was unprecedented. Later, the Grammy Award had to create a video/short film category for this.

I remember being downtown at an ice cream parlor where one of my friends worked and she said, “I’m fixin go home so I can watch the new MJ video!” That video was “Bad,” directed by the academy award winning director, Martin Scorcese. The networks actually debuted his video on primetime tv, which was unprecedented back then. By the time “Man in the Mirror” was released I was sold out to Gospel music, however, I’d heard that the Winans lended their vocals to that tune so I just had to give it a listen.

MJ had so many songs, videos and live recorded concerts. I could go on and on but I will stop now. I am not eloquent like Kendra but she summed it up quite nicely.

Maurice said...

You couldn't listen to the radio when I was coming up and not hear some of Michael Jackson's work. I don't consider myself a huge fan, but I liked most of his work. The man was a musical genius- Thriller is my favorite album of his, both for the content and because it was the last one before his more radical physical changes. And Kendra you're right- nobody will ever forget the Moonwalk :-).

I feel for his family at this time, but I'm glad that Michael has finally found peace. He didn't have much of that in life- I pray that he was in fact saved and can enjoy eternal rest.

Dwan Abrams said...

Thanks for this post, Kendra. Well said. You already know I loved myself some MJ. Praying that he knew the Lord and made it into heaven.

Anonymous said...

This is going to sound stange, but good for you. I was a young girl who had his albums and loved his albums..but truthfully I can say that my love was misplaced as a little girl, who at that age, probably shouldn't have been singing..Billie Jean is not my lover..this is not to jugde anyone, just to say it is a blessing to have been a child with only the influences of Christs' love first and foremost.
Then his life gifts and 'ministry' would be put in it's proper place, and perhaps he would still be with us now. Still, God bless Micheal and the gifts he shared with the world. a little bittersweet. thanks for the post.

deola said...

I love this blog!

Shelia E. Lipsey said...

Better late than never is what I have to say because I am just reading your message about Michael Jackson. You put his life, his legacy, his talents and the true essence of the gift(s) God bestowed upon this man, so eloquently. You are a true writer indeed, and I have to say that I respect you, your talents and your gift. God is amazing and everything He endows us to do, if we only follow Him, we shall reap bountiful blessings of His favor in, through and over our lives.

Keep moving forward, Kendra!