This Is It for Michael Jackson

Tony Slide (Medium)

There has been much frenzy around the life and death of the late Michael Jackson, but I am here, as an entertainer, to pay a small tribute to a man who may arguably be the greatest entertainer to ever grace the stage. I discovered at an early age that I loved entertaining, and I looked to MJ as a role model and an inspiration on how to perform in the spotlight. I separate Michael’s life on and off the stage. Some will say what they want about his private life, but very few can deny that no entertainer put on a show like Mike. I learned to sing and taught myself to dance because of the way he captivated people, but the thing that Michael taught me most was something that can’t be learned in a studio. When MJ was on stage, you could FEEL his aura. He brought a passion and charisma to the stage that had never been seen before, and perhaps may never be seen again. As he sang, jumped, screamed and glided all over the stage, Michael Jackson was no longer a person. He became an entity when he performed, a force of pure energy that could change the way you felt and truly excite and move you when he put on a show. Many athletes want to “be like Mike”, but when it comes to entertaining nobody will ever “be like Mike.”

TonyMJ (Medium)

Michael Jackson was the King of Pop because of his unique perception and connection with the performance that he was giving to the world. I went to see ‘This Is It’ last weekend and was absolutely blown away. Not only was the show out of this world, but Michael was moon walking on some other planet as well. This brings me to the point of this blog post. I suggest to any and all entertainers out there – whether you like MJ or not – to go and check this movie out. I know that, personally, as an entertainer, I try to be in tune with every facet of an event possible. I like to be immersed in it, so that it can be made into an unforgettable moment. Michael did this in a way that was truly mind boggling. There is a scene that shows Michael beat boxing one of his songs, so that the band could hear how it was supposed to sound. He was so in tune to the sounds and the instruments that he could repeat back the PROPER way for them to perform it. Later on, he vocally mimics his guitarist’s solo so that she doesn’t feel alone on the stage. His ear for music thoughout the film was astounding, while his ear for a performance was unmatched. He knew how music would make energy, and how the lights and visuals could compliment the sound. He sang all out during duets in rehearsal, because he knew the others fed off of him. He saw the big picture, knowing where everyone should be and exactly how they should be performing. Michael was showing off his performer’s intuition. He told his band to pause in the middle of ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ because he was locked in on the energy that filled the room. He told them “let it simmer…don’t rush the moment.” During ‘Smooth Criminal’, Kenny Ortega asked MJ how he would know when the screen changed to cue him, since it was behind him. Michael simply said, “I’ll feel it.” While all these moments were amazing in their own way, nothing took my breath away like Michael performing ‘Billie Jean.’ In the beginning, it seemed as if MJ was just going through the motions, but as he stood on stage by himself, a transformation occurred right in front of my eyes. Encouraged by the cheers of his backup dancers and the production staff, and fueled by the life of the music, Michael took off, as the spirit of a younger MJ took over the body of this fifty year old man. He sang and danced as if no one was watching, although he knew everyone was watching. In an instant everyone was taken to another place. In that moment, I realized what made a show in his eyes. taking his audience to a place far from reality.

Every time I step into the spotlight, I try to give the same world to my audience and clients. I believe all entertainers have this inside of them, and like MJ, we just need to figure out exactly how to free it. Michael said it best at the end of the movie when he stood in the middle of all his staff, “Don’t be nervous or scared. We are on an adventure, a fun adventure to take these people to another world.” I strongly suggest that everyone see this movie for it is truly moving in many ways; but I urge every entertainer out there to go see it as well, because in his final moment, Michael Jackson gives the lesson of a lifetime… This is the way to entertain. This is it.

Thank You Michael. Rest In Peace.

-Tony Azzaro

Photos by Kevin York

Leave a Reply