A Tribute to the King of Pop

Ok. So most may ask the question why a gospel website would spend any time covering "The King of Pop"? Well, Michael Jackson was more than just that, and his influence within the gospel music industry runs far deeper than most can imagine.

Jackson's musical accomplishments are legendary and nearly iconic. His first three albums (Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad) sold a combined total of 150 million albums worldwide. His music video premieres were prime time events. His concert performances were legendary, with thousands upon thousands selling out arenas worldwide to watch and enjoy his gift.

Michael Jackson Jackson was the epitome of success in the music genre and became the artist that every aspiring artist mirrored and patterned themselves after. So what was the appeal of Jackson? For one, the icon broke boundaries. He was the first African-American artist to be played on MTV. His music crossed generational, ethnic, and national barriers. He embodied the power and passion of music by pouring all of his imagination, creativity, and gifting into his craft producing an end result that was always timeless. Jackson showed us the true power that the gift of music possesses. Music has always been dubbed "the universal language" and every artist has looked for ways to be universal in their music presentation. Jackson showed that it is possible to work your craft and achieve unparalleled success.

As you look throughout the DNA of the last 30 years of gospel music, you can run down the list of artists whose musical styles have been influenced by Jackson. From the legendary John P. Kee to J. Moss, you will find strands of Jackson's musicality weaved within their presentation and arrangements. Artists such as Deitrick Haddon and Ton3x can be near carbon copies of Jackson in their presentation and style, when they chose to be. In fact, many compare Ton3x's inaugural Stellar Awards performance to Jackson's famous 25th Motown Anniversary performance. Looking through Ton3x's extensive musical catalogue, it's easy to see a plethora of similarities between the two talented artists. Likewise, you can grab any Deitrick Haddon song and find Jackson's influence. Note the similarities between Jackson's "Stranger In Moscow" and Haddon's "Hold On To Your Faith". It is these types of comparisons that can be made between Jackson and any number of gospel artists.

Lyrically, Jackson continually spoke out for the peace of the world and the coming together of the nations. Amazingly, that message sold records!! Jackson inspired generations to pursue their dream and devote themselves wholly to their objective. Whether publicly or privately, virtually every artist in this industry was inspired and impacted by the musical juggernaut that is Michael Jackson.

While in life he made an amazing impact but in death, his impact is magnified. The entire world stopped on its ear at the sudden passing of Jackson. The world mourned and continues to mourn the passing of this musical giant. His passing causes us to reflect and ponder some questions. What type of impact will we leave on this planet? Who will care that we were here? What will people say when we're gone? Most importantly, what is the legacy we will leave?

In spite of the media's incessant desire to focus on the controversial elements of Jackson's life, his music and impact continue to outweigh the negative chatter. Upon word of his passing, virtually every media outlet began playing tributes to Jackson or flooding the airwaves with his music and videos. His music left music stores at an alarming rate. Nine of the top ten selling albums on iTunes were from Jackson. This is indicative of the indelible imprint he has left on society.

Jackson was the embodiment of the Parable of the Talents. He did not take his gift and bury it in the ground. Instead he multiplied his talent so expertly that the whole earth knew of his gifting. What will we, as the gospel community, do with our talent? What type of impact will we leave on the music community and the world at large? Jackson proved that one man, one talent, one singer really CAN make a difference. In the face of critics, Jackson created timeless music that defied trends and fads that became the soundtrack of our lives. He impacted genres so heavily that artists from every genre clamored to collaborate with his genius.

Can we maximize our gifts in the earth such that people will desire to connect with what we have?

Introspective songs like "Man In The Mirror" and "We Are The World" were calls to action. They reminded us of our responsibility as citizens on this planet and how we should care for our fellow man. Jackson challenged so many of us through his work and work ethic. He remains an example of the epitome of an artist.

The challenge for us is to maximize the use of our gift and our relevance to the world. We cannot be satisfied limiting our outreach to a specific demographic. As artists and humans, we need to reach the world and seek to genuinely make a difference. Jackson showed that it was possible to take your gift to the masses and change the world.

Our lives will forever be enriched because of one man maximizing his gift. Let's aim to do likewise.

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editorial by Gerard Bonner

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