Ebony/Jet Interview with Michael Jackson
Johnson, Robert E., Ebony
OF ALL the superstars who are reluctant to share their personal views with the public via the press, Michael Jackson ranks easily as the most reluctant one. A consummate extrovert when on stage, he is as tightlipped as a Trappist monk when it comes to meeting the press. That's why Johnson Publishing Co. considers it an extraordinary coup that the king of pop abandoned his usual reticence and gave the longest interview "in eight years" to EBONY and Jet. The interview, which appeared in the May 1992 issue of EBONY is reprinted below.
It was conducted by Jet Executive Editor Robert E. Johnson during the entertainer's visit to four African countries (Gabon, the Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Egypt). During the trip, the entertainer was crowned king of Sani at a ceremony in the Ivory Coast.
EBONY/JET: Do you have any special feeling about this return to the continent of Africa?
JACKSON: For me, it's like the "dawn of civilization." It's the first place where society existed. It's seen a lot of love. I guess theres that connection because it is the root of all rhythm. Everything. It's home.
EBONY/JET: You visited Africa in 1974. Can you compare and contrast the two visits?
JACKSON: I'm more aware of things this time: the people and how they live and their government. But for me, I'm more aware of the rhythms and the music and the people. Thats what I'm 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 America ....
EBONY/JET: How does it feel to be a real king?
JACKSON: I never try to think hard about it because I don't want it to go to my head. But, its a great honor....
EBONY/JET: Speaking of music and rhythm, how did you put together the gospel songs on your last album?
JACKSON: I wrote "Will You Be There?" at my house, "Never Land" in California. ... I didn't think about it hard. That's why its hard to take credit for the songs that I write, because I just always feel that its done from above. I feel fortunate for being that instrument through which music flows. I'm just the source through which it comes. I can't take credit for it because its Gods work. He's just using me as the messenger. ....
EBONY/JET: What was the ceneept for the Dangerous album?
JACKSON: I wanted to do an album that was like Tehaikovsky's 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, theres 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 once: "When I see children, I see that God has not yet given up on man." An Indian poet from India said that, and his name is Tagore. …