Latifah said, “I’m here to represent millions of fans who loved Michael… all of you.” She reads a Maya Angelou poem, “We had him,” composed for the occasion: “Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing/Now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind… In the instant that we learn that Michael is gone, we know nothing… Though we are many, each of us is achingly alone…. He came to us from the Creator, trailing creativity in abundance.”
Lionel Ritchie sang Jesus is Love. Berry Gordy said, “He was the consummate student. He studied the greats and became greater. He raised the bar and them broke the bar.” He recollected Jackson cutting Smokey Robinson on Who’s Been Loving You? (“Hey Man, I think he got you on that one.” “Me too”), and add, “KIng of Pop is not big enough for him. I think he is simply the greatest entertainer who ever lived.”
After a memorial video, Stevie Wonder came on: “I do know that God is good,” he said, “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.” Then he played a couple of his own songs, solo piano.
This is turning out to be a pretty good concert. Bonus: Magic: “We had the greatest time, sitting on that floor, eating that bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.” (We thought it was Shaq at first; guess Magic’s still eating at KFC.)
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 7, 2009