Fans, artists and relatives expressed their affection and admiration for the late Michael Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday. For the last time. Moving speeches and some of his most celebrated melodies were sung to honour the memory of the King of Pop, Tuesday in Los Angeles. His brothers, children, family and friends took turns on stage at the Staples Center to utter their last tribute.
Eleven thousand fans were privileged to attend the ceremony which began with the reading of messages from former South African President Nelson Mandela and singer Diana Ross by Smokey Robinson, one of the pillars of Motown, the legendary record company that produced some of the greatest African American artists. Diana Ross became the godmother of little Michael when Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, who took part in the ceremony, discovered the Jackson 5.
A standing ovation greeted the arrival of the Jackson family to the Staples Center, following a private ceremony at Forest Lawn Cemetery. After a moment of silence in tribute to Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and Trey Lorenz singing “I’ll be there” made way for Queen Latifah and later Berry Gordy who took the opportunity to honour “the greatest artist who ever lived.” Stevie Wonder dedicated “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” (1971) to the late singer. Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson afollowed to pay their last respects to Michael Jackson. Magic Johnson took the opportunity to make a revelation to the audience: Michael Jackson loved KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken).
Throughout the ceremony, laughter and tears were alternated. Emotions were palpable as Jennifer Hudson sang, “Will you be there (Hold me)”. Reverend Al Sharpton reminded the audience that “When Michael began, the world was different.” Michael Jackson was the first black singer whose video clip was broadcast on MTV, paving the way for other black artists. The Reverend got a standing ovation for his tribute. John Mayer who chose neither to sing, nor utter a word, rocked the room with his guitar rendition of “Human nature”. It was an emotionally filled moment as everyone listened to the string lullaby and cherished the timeless legacies of a legend.
On her part, actress Brooke Shields discussed the friendship that bound herself and Michael Jackson together. She also revealed a line from MJ’s favourite song “Smile”, written by Charlie Chaplin. Jermaine Jackson brought the house to tears when he broke down as he performed “smile”.
Hailed by his daughter
Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, were also present to honour the memory of the singer who had shown great affection to their sick mother. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Republican Congresswoman announced that a resolution on the official and historical status of the “king of pop” Michael Jackson will be discussed in Congress. Usher followed singing a very moving rendition of “Gone Too Soon” as he stepped down the podium to touch Michael Jackson’s casket… before his final lyrics, he choked, cried and removed his dark glasses.
Lionel Richie, who co-wrote “We Are the World” (1985) with Michael Jackson to fight against famine in Africa, performed “Jesus is Love”. Michael’s group and a children’s choir performed the final song, “Heal the world”. The Jackson brothers appeared on stage to thank the all and sundry. But the very final tribute to Michael Jackson came from his daughter, Paris Michael, 11 years: “ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine”. Her tearful and heart wrenching but simple tribute told the world about the father Michael Jackson was. Her uncles, who wore white gloves, similar to what daddy had worn for the first time in 1983, carried the remains of Michael Jackson out. Behind them, the stage emptied.