The Center for Black Music Research (CBMR) which is based at Columbia College Chicago will present a major conference on his art, in various downtown Chicago locations on September 23rd – 25th.
’Genius Without Borders: Michael Jackson’ will present scholars, critics and Michael associates discussing the art, life and times of the King of Pop. All events will be open to the public and most of them will be free. To date, cultural critic Greg Tate, black studies professor Mark Anthony Neale and scholar Daphne Brooks have been enlisted as guest speakers.
Monica Hairston, executive director of the CBMR, explained the timing of the conference. “I noticed immediately after his death last summer that there was a lot of uncritical celebration, which I think was great. But I think that now, several months later, we’re really ready to look at the legacy in a critical way and understand the artistic processes and the genius that was involved in creating this icon. We felt it was a good time to open up the opportunity for some serious scholarship to be started.”
The event will build on the CBMR’s much-discussed conference of last year, ‘Genius Without Borders: A Symposium in Honor of the Genius of Ray Charles’. But the Michael soiree will differ from the Ray Charles event in at least one significant way, musicians will not be playing Michael’s songs.
“We realized that even though we had a really successful performance of Ray Charles’ music (last year)…so many artists had kind of yoked onto his compositions, and (audiences) had an ear to hear them as standards,” says Hairston. “Whereas people want to hear the Michael Jackson songs as they are. They are unique, aural, studio-created works of art. And without those specific studio sounds, I don’t think audiences want to hear them. I think that will change over time, but it’s all still so new.”
Scheduling for ‘Genius Without Borders: Michael Jackson’ has yet to be finalised, but Hairston says that in addition to the already announced guests, individuals who worked with Michael and knew him personally will also be on hand.
For further details contact the Center for Black Music Research at (001) 312 369 7559.