EBONY

May 1992

MICHAEL SPEAKS
Africa 1992

EBONY/JET: Do you have any special feeling about this return to the continent of Africa?

JACKSON: For me, itís like the ďdawn of civilization.Ē Itís the first place where society existed. Itís seen a lot of love. I guess thereís that connection because it is the root of all rhythm. Everything. Itís home.

EBONY/JET: You visited Africa in 1974. Can you compare and contrast the two visits?

JACKSON: Iím more aware of things this time: the people and how they live and their government. But for me, Iím more aware of the rhythms and the music and the people. Thatís what Iím really noticing more than anything. The rhythms are incredible. You can tell especially the way the children move. Even the little babies, when they hear the drums, they start to move. The rhythm, the way it affects their soul and they start to move. The same thing that Blacks have in AmericaÖ

EBONY/JET: How does it feel to be a real king?

JACKSON: I never try to think hard about it because I donít want it to go to my head. But, itís a great honorÖ

EBONY/JET: Speaking of music and rhythm, how did you put together the gospel songs on your last album?

JACKSON: I wrote ďWill You be There?Ē at my house, ďNeverlandĒ in CaliforniaÖI didnít think about it hard. Thatís why itís hard to take credit for the songs that I write, because I just always feel that itís done from above. I feel fortunate for being that instrument through which music flows. Iím just the source through which it comes. I canít take credit for it because itís Godís work. Heís just using me as the messengerÖ.

EBONY/JET: What was the concept for the Dangerous album?

JACKSON: I wanted to do an album that was like Tchaikovskyís Nutcracker Suite. So that in a thousand years from now, people would still be listening to it. Something that would live forever. I would like to see children and teenagers and parents and all races all over the world, hundreds and hundreds of years from now, still pulling out songs from that album and dissecting it. I want it to live.

EBONY/JET: I notice on this trip that you made a special effort to visit children.

JACKSON: I love children, as you can see. And babies.

EBONY/JET: And animals.

JACKSON: Well, thereís a certain sense that animals and children have that gives me a certain creative juice, a certain force that later on in adulthood is kind of lost because of the conditioning that happens in the world. A great poet said one, ďWhen I see children, I see that God has not yet given up on man.Ē An Indian poet from India said that, and his name is Tagore. The innocence of children represents to me the source of infinite creativity. That is that potential of every human being. But by the time you are an adult, youíre conditioned; youíre so conditioned by the things about you Ė and it goes. Love. Children are loving, they donít gossip, they donít complain, theyíre just open-hearted. Theyíre ready for you. They donít judge. They donít see things by way of color. Theyíre very child-like. Thatís the problem with adults: they lose that child-like quality. And thatís the level of inspiration thatís so needed and is so important for creating and writing songs and for a sculptor, a poet, or a novelist. Itís that same kind of innocence, that same level of consciousness, that you create from. And kids have it. I feel it right away from animals and children and nature. Of course. And when Iím on stage. I canít perform if I donít have that kind of ping pong with the crowd. You know the kind of cause and effect action, reaction. Because I play off of them. Theyíre really feeding me and Iím just acting from their energy.

EBONY/JET: Where is all this heading?

JACKSON: I really believe that God chooses people to do certain things, the way Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci or Mozart or Muhammad Ali or Martin Luther King is chosen. And that is their mission to do that thing. And I think that I havenít scratched the surface yet of what my real purpose is for being here. Iím committed to my art. I believe that all art has as its ultimate goal the union between the material and the spiritual, the human and the divine. And I believe that that is the very reason for the existence of art and what I do. And I feel fortunate in being that instrument through which music flowsÖ.Deep inside I feel that this world we live in is really a big, huge, monumental symphonic orchestra. I believe that in its primordial form all of creation is sound and that itís not just random sound, that itís music. Youíve heard the expression, music of the spheres? Well, thatís a very literal phrase. In the Gospels, we read, ďAnd the Lord God made man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.Ē That breath of life to me is the music of life and it permeates every fiber of creation. In one of the pieces of the Dangerous album, I say: ďLife songs of ages, throbbing in my blood, have danced the rhythm of the tide and flood.Ē This is a very literal statement, because the same new miracle intervals and biological rhythms that sound out the architecture of my DNA also governs the movement of the stars. The same music governs the rhythm of the seasons, the pulse of our heartbeats, the migration of birds, the ebb and flow of ocean tides, the cycles of growth, evolution and dissolution. Itís music, itís rhythm. And my goal in life is to give to the world what I was lucky to receive: the ecstasy of divine union through my music and my dance. Itís like, my purpose, itís what Iím here for.

EBONY/JET: What about politics?

JACKSON: I never get into politics. But I think music soothes the savage beast. If you put cells under a microscope and you put music on, youíll see them move and start to dance. It affects the soulÖ.I hear music in everything. [Pauses] You know, thatís the most Iíve said in eight yearsÖ.You know I donít give interviews. That because I know you, and I trust you. Youíre the only person I trust to give interviews to.

Africa 1992