Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Faith Makes Leaps at MJ Memorial Service

It was indeed a spectacular event designed for a king. Over 11,000 fans converged on Los Angeles at the Staples Center on Tuesday to bid farewell to the King of Pop - Michael Jackson and to pay tribute to his musical legacy. Amongst those who attended and participated in the super memorial service was Los Angeles Laker pros Kobe Bryant and Ervin "Magic" Johnson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Brooke Shields, Rev. Bernice King, Rev. Martin Luther King, III, Smokey Robinson, Queen Latifah and Motown founder Berry Gordy.

Of the services' most memorable performances, Stevie Wonder wowed the crowd with a fitting two-song medley of "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" and "They Won't Go When I Go." But Wonder's words offered up a wave of inspiration and encouragement when he spoke: "I do know that God is good and I do know that as much as we may feel – and we do – that we need Michael here with us, God must have needed him far more.”

Also, pop sensation John Mayer provided an acoustic backdrop on an instrumental performance of "Human Nature," Jermaine Jackson glowed on the happy-hearted Charlie Chaplin classic "Smile" and Mariah Carey opened the star-studded show with the Jackson 5 hit "I'll Be There." But right after Queen Latifah recited the Maya Angelou poetic tribute "We Had Him," the event took on a radiant quality of spirituality that allowed Michael's star to only twinkle while God was getting all the glory.

Lionel Richie's brilliant display on "Jesus Is Love," a song he recorded with the Commodores in 1980, moved the audience to tears as Richie poignantly expressed his gratitude to God's amazing grace. The song was recently covered as a duet by gospel singer Smokie Norful and Heather Headley.

American Idol finalist and Oscar-winning Jennifer Hudson, who lost her mother, brother and nephew in a tragic domestic shooting last year, electrified the audience with her soulful gospel rendition of "Will You Be There."

R&B crooner Usher effortlessly walked through Jackson's heartfelt ballad "Gone Too Soon." Towards the end of the song after making his way to Jackson's golden casket, Usher was comforted by the Jackson family after being moved to tears.

Smokey Robinson reminded us of God's blessings and reminded listeners that Jackson was a blessing specially designed by God. Towards the end of his remarks, he repeated that "he's not really gone. He's going to live forever and ever and ever."

Shelia Jackson-Lee eclipsed the commentary of the King family with her amazing speech and her introduction of Resolution 600 officially recognizing Jackson as a musical icon, legend and humanitarian. She also reiterated the importance of faith and acknowledged while Jackson possessed a great sea of fans across all aisles of faiths and walks of life that the story of the Good Samaritan from the Holy Bible best described the heart of the late musical giant.

The closing performances showcased Jackson's strong good will ballads like "Heal the World" and "We Are the World;" which culminated with Jackson's farewell tour singers, his family and other celebrities and pop stars taking the stage as one big chorus.

But the opening moments, highlighted with the Andrae' Crouch Singers echoing "Soon and Very Soon" and the pallbearers entering the stadium with Jackson's gorgeous coffin, clearly set the angelic tone for a moving, somber tribute to the King of Pop.

Rumors in the faith community surfaced last week after gospel duo Mary Mary announced on their Twitter page that Michael Jackson accepted Jesus Christ into his life after a recent meeting with gospel legends Andrae' & Sandra Crouch. Afterwards, the Crouchs quickly responded to Charisma Magazine that the entire set of accusations were "incorrect and absolutely not true." During a recent visit with Jackson weeks before his passing, Andrae' Crouch planned to reunite with the pop icon to work on two new songs for a pending album release.

2009 marked the 50th anniversary of Berry Gordy's musical empire of Motown Records. Unfortunately, it also mourned the lost of one of pop music's greatest contributors.

Below is a clip of Lionel Richie's performance at the memorial service of his gospel ballad "Jesus Is Love."

Remembering Michael Jackson [PRAYZEHYMNOnline]

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