Bob Marley once sang “One good thing about music, when it hits you fell no pain”. There are songs that make your mind drift into day dreams and wonder endlessly in the corridors of your imagination; songs that make you tap your feet and bob your head with every kick of the snare drum and every pluck of a bass guitar string; songs that make you want to love ‘her’ more and songs that make you wish you loved ‘him’ less; those songs that lift you up when you feel down-and-out and those that inspire and illuminate your darkest hour, the ones that speak to the soul even when your mind isn’t listening.
I always said Michael Jackson was one of the greatest things to ever happen to music; not simply because of his contribution to music, dancing skills, record setting concerts or platinum selling singles and albums but rather, because of my simple appreciation for people who possess a sincere humanitarian nature, incredible work ethic, jaw-dropping creativity and are great examples of doing what you love in life.
His star power, coupled with his social consciousness and responsibility also allowed him to break racial barriers and open doors that would benefit many artists of color that would follow. The most documented and celebrated being that of him being the first Black artist to be played on MTV, which before Michael, would only showcase white artists.
“There was a time, long, long ago, like the early 80s, where MTV was shook to play videos by black artists. It may be hard to believe, considering the many colors, creeds, and religions featured on music television today, often in compromising positions on gaudy reality TV shows (I see you, Salwa). But in the station’s early years, programmers took a hard-stance toward its “rock” format, and R&B/funk/hip-hop artists were all left out to dry. It wasn’t until MJ’s inescapable, genre-smashing hit “Billie Jean” and its iconic video dropped that MTV was forced to adjust with the times or, according to Mike’s label, have all other CBS programming pulled from the station. MTV folded, and unwittingly set up the King of Pop to change music videos forever with the 14-minute epic “Thriller.” – The 25 Most Important Civil Rights Moments in Music History, Complex.com
Michael Jackson also made music that inspired us to be better people—Man in the Mirror, Heal the World, Black or White, They Don’t Really Care About Us etc.—and challenged us through his lyrics, to strive for the greater good of others and the world around us.
True genius transcends time, race and generations much like William Shakespeare did in literature and Leonardo da Vinci did in the arts; it transcends the limitations of accepted logic and creativity much like Einstein did in science and Frank Lloyd Wright in Architecture. True genius is immortalized in human history and enshrined in memories, both owned and inherited much like the genius of Bob Marley or Ritchie Valens, people who died before my time. And that is what Michael Jackson is, the manifestation of musical genius that was gone too soon. His merky, odd and at times, tormented private life is confusing at best, but his talents, abilities, and impact can never been taken away from him.
I met Michael Jackson in Zimbabwe. On my birthday, November 22nd, my mother told me to close my eyes, and when I opened them, there he was, photographed in a bright white suit laying on the cover of an Album called “Thriller”. On that day, and obsession that would span decades would begin. An obsession that would manipulate my parents into buying every Michael Jackson and Jackson Five album, poster and poster, and impressively convince them to allow me to stay up late and watch his Dangerous Tour 1992 live in Bucharest, Romania.
Happy Birthday to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. I’ll leave you with my all time Michael Jackson song.
Sincerely, Kwapi Vengesayi
Kwapi Vengesayi is an Amazon four-time bestselling author and all his books are Available on Amazon.