It’s a Michael Jackson experience

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  • Michael Jackson tribute band Who's Bad (Photo by Larry Baglio)

    Michael Jackson tribute band Who's Bad (Photo by Larry Baglio)

  • Taalib York as the lead singer of the Michael Jackson tribute band Who's Bad (Photo by Curtis Brown)

    Taalib York as the lead singer of the Michael Jackson tribute band Who's Bad (Photo by Curtis Brown)

  • The lead singer of the Michael Jackson tribute band, Who's Bad (Photo by Jeff Schad)

    The lead singer of the Michael Jackson tribute band, Who's Bad (Photo by Jeff Schad)


It’ll be a Splash

If you haven’t yet heard of Cup Match Summer Splash, it might seem that you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere.

The three-part event is sponsored by the Corporation of Hamilton and organised by 441 Productions and Veterans in Action.

The fun continues on Saturday night with the One Love One Life Concert featuring reggae heavyweight Tarrus Riley and the Black Soil Band.

Dean Fraser, one of the best saxophone players in the world, will perform with the She’s Royal singer. Reggae legend Luciano, one of the most in demand Jamaican entertainers, will also perform for the crowd.

The event starts on at 8pm and ends at 2am.

The final event takes place next Wednesday, on Cup Match Eve with soca band Machel Montano and the HD Family. Special guests will include Patrice Roberts, Farmer Nappy and host DJ Young Chow of Hot 97 in New York City. Local band Working Title and DJ D’General will also be opening on the night, which starts at 8pm and finishes at 2am. For more information or tickets, visit www.bdatix.bm

Fans of the late Michael Jackson have a unique opportunity to hear the King of Pop’s music live tomorrow night.

American tribute band Who’s Bad, promises to take residents on a musical journey beginning in the 1970s when the iconic singer performed with The Jackson Five and including more current hits such as Billie Jean, Bad and Thriller.

The band will headline the City Music Festival as part of the Cup Match Summer Splash, a free family event kicking off in the Par-la-Ville Car Park at 6pm.

Lead singer Taalib York spoke with The Royal Gazette about what it took for him to channel his inner Michael Jackson, night after night, in front of audiences around the world.

The task was so daunting he was initially hesitant about accepting the gig nearly ten years ago.

“Michael Jackson has been my idol since I was a child and I had to make sure I was always doing it right,” Mr York said.

“My voice is a lot heavier and has a lower register than his and I didn’t want to do anything that wasn’t 100 percent perfect. Imitating someone who, in my opinion, is artistically perfect is near impossible. Nothing can really compare to it. So it took me a long time to build the confidence.”

It helped that people would come up to him after the show and tell him how much he looked and sounded like the pop singer, he said.

These days, one of his biggest challenges is turning off the act when he’s away from the stage.

“Being yourself is sometimes a challenge when you are playing this role,” Mr York said

“I am a very big perfectionist and I can obsess about getting things right. Sometimes I have to remember who I am because you get caught up in the character. Fans don’t call you by your name they call you ‘Michael’.

“So the best way to tap back into Taalib is by working on some of my own music, writing my own material and singing in my own voice.”

Brooklyn-born Mr York has been singing and dancing since the age of seven.

He can easily recall the first time he saw the music video for Michael Jackson’s Another Part of Me and how he was completely memorised by the way the singer looked, danced and sang.

“Just the perfection, and how much he focused on the details, was amazing to me and I had seen nothing like that at that point in my life,” he said.

“And from that time on I was hooked.”

He started to mimic the performances he saw at Michael’s concerts and shows — and got his mother to critique him to make sure he was hitting the mark. Then, while working in North Carolina recording music of his own, Mr York’s producer put him in contact with a guy who happened to be looking for a lead singer for a Michael Jackson tribute band.

“A month later I decided to finally do it,” he said. “I was a little reluctant in the beginning, but when I finally decided to be a part of it, it was a match made because the band and everything worked out.”

He described the show as “almost theatrical” as the band members work meticulously to mimic how the iconic singer would have put on a show.

“But at the same time we also try to add an element of current-ness,” Mr York explained. “There is a little bit of personality of us [the lead singers] and the band that comes out on stage, but I try to remain pretty true.

“It’s a Michael Jackson experience, very high-energy, detail-focused and musical. We want to make sure it’s live music and not just a track playing in the background while we are dancing to it.”

The group has toured all over the world — this will be their first time in Bermuda.

Mr York said the best part of the job was getting to meet people from different countries who love Michael Jackson as much as he does.

“I enjoy getting to hear the stories about the impact he made in someone’s life,” he said. “I was in China, we were miles away from where I grew up, and the people’s stories sounded just like mine. It unifies us and make you feel a bond with people over the art.”

He said the special thing about Michael Jackson is he could take a very good, upbeat dance song and pair it with an important message.

“That’s what I love about him. He could get across something very serious or important by using pop music,” Mr York added.

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Published Jul 24, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 23, 2014 at 9:51 pm)

It’s a Michael Jackson experience

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