Inner Michael » “Michael”- Don’t Break the News or the Spell

“Michael”- Don’t Break the News or the Spell

Do you remember the fight when the new album was released? Do you remember all the bitter words? The accusations flew:

That’s not Michael!
That’s Jason Malachi!
Jason Malachi says he did it!
Jason Malachi says someone else posted that Facebook page!
Michael’s family says it’s not Michael!
Don’t buy the album! If you do you are supporting $ony and they killed Michael!
Buy the album! If you don’t buy it the estate debt will not get paid!
By two copies and give one away! (Buy it because some are boycotting Sony.)
The ablum is overprocessed.
That’s not Michael’s voice; something is wrong with the vibrato, falsetto, the mix, the….

Remember what Will-i-am said? Akon? Teddy Riley?

Do you remember the firestorm at Facebook. At Twitter?

Do you remember the hate?

I bought “Michael” and there is something very unusual about that album. There is something haunting about it. I believe it is Michael’s voice. Not just his voice, but his VOICE.

As Michael’s last word, this album is appropriate. It tells the whole story for anyone who wants to listen.

Michael asks them to “Stop Breaking the News.” That is particularly haunting because it is Michael speaking from the grave about what put him there.  Michael was hounded into an early grave by those who stalked him for “breaking news.” The 2005 trial in particular and everything surrounding it has an eerie resemblance to not just a feeding frenzy but killing fields. Just because you couldn’t see them doesn’t mean there weren’t bodies strewn everywhere or that there weren’t casualties or collateral damage. Lots of things died there.

Charles Thomson has addressed that well in his article “The Most Shameful Episode in Journalistic History.” It’s hard to believe that he is speaking about a twenty first century event. It was a trial by ink.

As long as there is no consequence for breaking the news, they will continue to break it. If we want that to change, we must stop consuming junk journalism and we must stand up and demand better. The only way it is going to change, is if your voice joins that of Michael. Become his chorus by letting the newspapers, TV and online magazines what you want and more importantly, what you don’t.

But in order to be heard, it must be done respectfully. Without venom. Without cursing. Without any hint of “crazy Michael Jackson fan” stuff. Michael was not about bullying people. He informed with his voice, lyrics, music. Bullying on Facebook or Twitter is not Michael’s vibe, and not his voice. It is in fact, a betrayal of the man. It’s just not what he stood for.

“Monster” is a stunning and truthful message about the media and feeding frenzy that surrounds the cult of celebrity. The rap by 50 cent is extremely poignant. I am not sure the lyricists got it right: I think it’s about the celebrity news industry: animal, Hannibal, cannibal EDITION. And they do “eat your soul.”

“Keep Your Head Up” is another one of those mentor advisory messages from Michael. “Rise and do it again” he says; it’s his own story. How many times did he rise again? And “Hold My Hand” is an invitation to hold his hand (and our own) across time and the boundaries at the edge of life.

Yes, Michael was a perfectionist. Would he have given his final blessing to this album in the form in which it was released? We will never know.

What I know is that the album and its message was important. No, it was crucial. All the debate about its authenticity, the use of Melodyne, the frenzy and flurry, all the venom and hate…. only served to diffuse or water down its impact.

Those looking in from the outside did not see the album. They did not hear the message. They only saw and heard more of the “Michael Jackson” frenzy. There was so much loud noise around the release of this album that the real message was drowned out. Did we hear what Michael was saying in “Michael?”

Better we had stood in silent appreciation so that the beauty was not lost. So that the impact that Michael intended was not diminished. Instead of compulsive tweeting, texting wringing hands and yelling, we should have stood in silence. Something important was missed. In the silence, we might have been able to hear and feel the love. It was there. The act of attempting to finish someone’s work who has gone on is an act of complete courage. Of tribute. Of testimony—to the fleeting preciousness of life and to the magnitude of just one soul who once visited earth. It is to say: “he mattered.”

As an artist, I can tell you that it is true that art is in the eye of the beholder, but the artist always has something in mind that they are trying to convey. They are willing something to you. And when the work is being conceived, something is being infused. When the thing is done and the message is clear and hopefully received, the artist finds the angst, the tears, the fears, the sweat, work, struggle and the little piece of soul tucked inside there, worth the effort. Art is not created without all of that. And the artist would prefer that you do what I am about to recommend:

In any “gallery” where the art is revealed, do not run up to the “finished” work and examine the medium or the brush strokes. It is not finished until  YOU are fully present with it. Step back—no step back further. Now silently take it all in. Let your eyes wander over it, caress it. Let your body feel it wherever it arrives in your biology. Breathe it in. Let the essence of it wash over you. Do not speak. Do not give it words for words in that moment where pure magic lives– will cause the magic to flee. Words will disperse the feel, dispel the spell you are under—that the artist reached out with—to hold you in, shake you with, to rattle your sensibilities, startle your mind, lose your complacency, embrace you with warmth, to love you and bring you to yourself. To speak is to destroy that magic. Shhh.


Now hear directly from those who helped to finish “Michael.”


* The painting on this page is Barbara’s “Vision of the Madonna”
You must step back in order to appreciate the art and the artist.


  1. Nikki said . . .

    Perfect Barbara! I agree with everything you’ve written. “Michael” is a masterpiece, and the artistic beauty of it is best understood and felt by sitting with it and letting it soak in, bake in, “simmer” in to the cells of your body, heart and soul.

    Every unique song is distinctly Michael, and the album as a whole conveys the endless expanse of his talent, his message, the diversity and beauty that is found in his creative output. He never stopped giving and giving to the world, and it is up to us, his supporters, to honor and carry on his legacy with the deepest care and respect. It is our responsibility.

    The video you’ve included of The Making of “Michael” shows how much love went into the album, love of Michael and of his art. I will be forever grateful for the work that was done to bring this gift to the world, and I look forward to more should we be so blessed. Thank you for all you do, Barbara! With love, Nikki

    Posted February 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink
  2. Sue Springer said . . .

    Reb. B, you are so right about “Michael.” I found it so sad that many people were so blinded by their need to defend Michael that they missed this beautiful and important message. Michael would have been the first person to applaud the generous spirit and strength of the individuals who put this collection together in such a loving way. He absolutely knew that any unreleased music left at his passing would be released to the world. Sometimes I think fans forget that although he was a perfectionist, he was also a generous soul who championed the gifts of others, encouraged all of us to reach for excellence, and told us over and over again that each of us have divine gifts. Those who worked so hard on “Michael” did it with love and honor for Michael, and I believe he has humbly applauded their hard work, and was probably patting their backs and smiling the whole time they were working. It is time for his messages to truly enter hearts — defending him can only be done by showing the world we are loving and reasonable people. He didn’t reserve his love for only those of us who understood him and loved him, he loved the whole of humankind and the world. When I am faced with an insult about him, I take a deep breath and remember the dignity and grace Michael showed every day of his life, especially during the horrendous pain of the trial, and then it is much easier to respond with kindness in an attempt to enlighten rather than condemn. Being human, I fail miserably sometimes, but Michael also taught me to never give up. As you said in an earlier post, the only way the horrendous media “junk” will stop is for us to take away the demand. No more “breaking news,” just love, compassion and understanding. Love and peace all, sue.

    Posted February 19, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink
  3. Anne Mette Jepsen said . . .

    Thank you Rev. Kaufmann 🙂 LOVE and GRATITUDE 🙂

    Posted February 19, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink
  4. Cassieformaxwell said . . .

    I am absolutely in love with the cd “Michael”. Initally I will admit I was torn within myself whether or not to purchase the cd. The Sony drama has always baffled me. I did not know who to trust, so I trusted my heart. I purchased it and listened to it intently, not to discern the voice issue, but the messages contained therein. Through my ears and straight to my heart, I heard words of Michael. I don’t know nor do I really care because to me it just doesn’t matter, who did what to get these songs to us. I believe they were meant to be just what they are; Michael’s expressions of love, messages for those who love him.

    I wish the fan community would come together and love each other. No one is here to tell anyone else what to believe; and not everyone will always agree. But we can agree to disagree without resorting to name calling and put downs. Love is as love does. Take a cue from Michael Jackson. He never resorted to hate, even when it seemed there was nothing much else to do. He was a man of conviction and his belief that love heals all wounds was how he lived his life. He was a gentleman. He was an angel.

    Posted February 20, 2011 at 1:09 am | Permalink
  5. Joyce said . . .

    I completely agree with everything that is so thoughtfully written in this excellent post by Rev. Barbara and also the perfect comments from Nikki and Sue. I can only think of two words to add… Amen and Thanks!

    The “Making of MICHAEL” video was wonderful. I could absolutely feel the love, respect and admiration that all of the collaborators on this beautiful creation shared with Michael.

    Thank you also Rev. Barbara for sharing your artwork. I found it to be both beautiful and intriguing as I took the time to step back and appreciate the feeling that it gave me.

    Posted February 20, 2011 at 1:52 am | Permalink
  6. Lauren said . . .

    Yes, I remember the hub-bub. I recall feeling confused at first and not understanding the uproar. This was Michael’s music and the friends who wrapped it for him, for us, because his hands were missing, knew him and worked with him and shared his vision and loved the man. I wanted Michael’s words above all and was stunned by the beauty of the music…all of it. If I needed confirmation, a 4 year old provided it. The love vibe he feels in Heal the World, he feels all over this new music. Kids know and this bigger kid knew it too. I feel sad for those who dismissed Michael’s gift because I believe most love him but were misguided somehow and missed something beautiful. Sometimes money can be evil even if we only worry about who gets it. Doesn’t matter. This is Michael and he is no longer in our world but his words and music and message are and I am going to inhale every bit of it. Now I’m going to be quiet and listen again. Thanks, Barbara

    Posted February 20, 2011 at 2:28 am | Permalink
  7. Aimee said . . .

    Thank you, Barbara, for your beautifully written article and reminder that we be still within and really LISTEN. I, too, was at first distracted by all the hoopla surrounding this album. But being the skeptic that I am, I needed to find out for myself and so purchased the album. My first few listens were spent trying to analyze the soundtrack (“Is that really Michael’s voice?”). After about the fourth time, however, I was finally able to hear the lyrics but more importantly, FEEL Michael’s intent. Whenever I hear this album, I feel renewed and grateful and astonishingly at peace. So yes, there IS something haunting and unusual about this album. And thank you also for providing the video link. I highly recommend it to anyone who still have doubts. Hopefully it will confirm what you might feel in your heart – that “Michael” IS a courageous and loving tribute to one of the most remarkable artists/humanitarians in our lifetime.

    Posted February 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Permalink
  8. Dalia said . . .

    An album without the supervision of MJ provoked many emotions in me and distrust. At first I had doubts in a couple of songs, but listening again and again I think it’s understandable to be an album not supervised by Michael. These are rehearsal, not the final work. No one else has the talent and sensitivity to make me feel what MJ makes me feel to hear his music and unique voice. I love this album because it is the last gift given by a king from his grave, a very precious gift.

    Posted February 20, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  9. gertrude said . . .

    I was baffled to the point of tears at the furor, sabotage and paranoia surrounding the release of Michael. Without it there is no doubt in my mind his, HIS CD would have rocketed to number one as it should have. Good Lord, MICHAEL knows he’s not here to perfect it! What makes people think he wasn’t working through Teddy Riley in the production of this album when he had so trusted Teddy throughout his career? Does anyone seriously think that Michael, who so loved his fans, would not want them to have this wonderful work as a comfort to them in his absence? The messages are pointed and powerful on this album. Does anyone seriously think MICHAEL doesn’t want them heard? THANK-YOU SO MUCH REVEREND BARBARA for saying what must be said. And thank-you for posting that beautiful video. 50 Cent said clearly Monster and his rap on it WAS about what a monster the media is.

    Posted February 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink
  10. gertrude said . . .

    BTW I love the painting. Bit of a Renaissance Woman aren’t you? (smile)

    Posted February 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink
  11. Theresa B said . . .

    From the first moment that I heard the album, “Michael,” I felt the love these men (producers) had for Michael. This was a labor of love for them and it shows throughout. The songs chosen are a testimony to what was done to MJ by unscrupulous and greedy people. But, other songs chosen say to those greedy people, “This is who Michael really was and the world should feel examine the hate and greed that killed him.” I have listened to the album every day since it’s release. It has earned a special place in my soul. The “killer” beats on Monster, Hollywood Tonight, and Breaking News don’t hurt either. 🙂 I love every song on the album!

    Posted February 21, 2011 at 3:59 am | Permalink
  12. Susan T said . . .

    Oh, what a wonderful video clip! It was fascinating to listen to these respected musicians and friends share about their thoughtful and loving efforts to “finish” this beautiful collection of songs. Sadly, I count myself among the too-quick-to-criticize regarding the authenticity of this CD. It was watching the video of “Hold My Hand” that proved to be my tipping point. It’s just too beautiful a song to not want close to your heart. I don’t even know who Jason Malachi is but I respect these musicians. It’s very comforting to me to know that Michael did have trustworthy friends who cared deeply about him. To know that he did experience “peace” in his life through his children and his association with the Cascio family is comforting. God bless them! Feeling what I feel now about this CD, I learned the value and blessing in being patient. When he sings, I am forever… you just smile and say to yourself, “Yes, Michael, you are forever.”

    Love the painting; love your gentle admonishment to step back, be quiet, and let yourself “feel.” In a world of split-second imaging and instant gratification, imagine the vibration unleashed if we could all do just that, at the same time?

    Posted February 21, 2011 at 8:18 am | Permalink
  13. AnneUK said . . .

    Dear Rev Barbara,
    When I first heard that there was to be a new album from Michael. I listened to the arguments about Sony, the estate, the list is endless. Michael’s passing it appeared had not stopped some peoples abililty to ride on his back once again. I didnt need to listen to any of these arguments, I had quietly made the decision that I was going to buy this album and pre-ordered it the same day. To me it was a gift from Michael from beyond the grave that I never thought I would receive. No, it has not got Michaels perfection as we always came to expect. This had something much better, it had Michael showing us the process and giving us the messages– messages that in the main we needed to hear. The people involved in “finishing” this album all knew what Michael would have been looking to achieve with it. They worked with love to this end. I just loved the way you described the power of silence. If we have noise then we have to have the opposite. (the yin/yang effect) The opposite gives us the opportunity to stop and take on board what we are experiencing.
    I absolutely love your painting. My goodness Rev Barbara you are a lady of many talents. However I would like to know how you find theh time to do all you do. Are you sure you only have 24 hours in your day? With much love Anne UK xx

    Posted February 21, 2011 at 8:49 am | Permalink
  14. admin said . . .

    Jason is an MJ impersonator who sounds like Michael. There is another sense (besides to hear, see, touch, smell, taste) that may be employed in any situation– to feel your way into it. Places, spaces, locations, landscapes, music, conversations, circumstances, events, and so on… including people all have a feel. It is a refined perception and can be honed to become very acute. Whenever I have trouble deciding, I feel into the situation with option A and evaluate how that feels to me; then I do the same with option B. The body knows. Michael is in the album– you can feel him there. I think that may be what the Jackson 5 were singing about when the asked: “Can you feel it?” It’s all there– in the video. Take another look. ~Rev B

    Posted February 21, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink
  15. Souldreamer7 said . . .

    While I’ll keep my thoughts about the album “Michael” silenced – I do want to say that this post is right on point with the media. I have been thinking about this for the last week. The media… the cameras.. It’s ruining our culture. It seems no one can do anything even if it’s sincere because it will be played a thousand times via tv & internet and then watched twice as much or more in different angles and forms till the sincerity has been sucked out..making it lose the true prespective. The media today is a sad sad thing. I come here today and see that you Rev. Barbara and others have been feeling the same. Can we stop them? I know we can Choose. Thank you Rev. Barbara for your words. With Love & Blessings..

    Posted February 21, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Permalink
  16. admin said . . .

    We can educate youth. Tell everyone about the Voices Education Project curriculum “Words and Violence.” It addresses the media throughout. ~Rev. B

    Posted February 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink
  17. It's all for L.O.V.E said . . .

    I, too, got caught up into the controversary surrounding the album, Michael. Then, I finally got down to what really mattered. Perhaps every note sung is not Michael. So what? Michael is gone. We’re all acutely aware of that. However, I could feel him. I could sense him. And, in the end, that’s all that mattered.

    Posted February 21, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink
  18. Souldreamer7 said . . .

    I help direct people to the Voices Education Project via MJJC Legacy Project Team. I hope that is okay with you Rev. Barbara. Always Love.

    Posted February 22, 2011 at 12:00 am | Permalink
  19. admin said . . .

    That’s great. Tell people outside the MJ circle too. Every school and civic program needs it. ~B

    Posted February 22, 2011 at 3:23 am | Permalink
  20. Dalia said . . .

    It is necessary to spread the Voices Education Project curriculum “Words and Violence.” to all contacts in your email because that way people could get involved and interested, means helping people to access to very important information that can even help save others’ lives! There are others who seek to vindicate Michael, but remove the stigma of “crazy fans” there ask that we not use icons with pictures of Michael and names alluding to Michael so as to not divert the attention of the goal: That the common people know who MJ really was and how he was lynched by the media and how it can be avoided in the future.

    Posted February 22, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  21. Souldreamer7 said . . .

    Yes, I do viaTwitter, Facebook Yahoo! Group, youtube, blogs etc. besides a main forum – so people from all walks of life get a chance to get the news about Voices Education Project. It’s a wonderful project and I believe it will help people around the globe. Thanks for this project.

    Posted February 22, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink
  22. Kim said . . .

    When “Michael” was going to be released, I had no doubt that I would purchase it. In fact I pre-ordered it. I also heard and read much about the controversy regarding the authenticity of the album. When I listened to it the first time, I felt Michael. I knew in my heart that he was there. Michael worked with many people over the years; quite a few spoke in the video. Michael always worked to make his music relevant for the time (although some if not all of his work is timeless), so we could expect different sounds, rhythms, melodies, genres and even different messages. To me the new album was no different and I didn’t even care. It’s very sad that people got caught up on the question of “is it” or “is it not”. When people get caught up in those type of things, they miss out on so much; what is important. I didn’t want to miss out. Your words speak of the messages that Michael wanted us to hear. I heard his messages loud and clear. Every time I listen to each one of the songs, I hear them more clearly and I love them even more. Thank you for your thoughts on this. I wish more people would read them. Also, I love your painting. You truly are a very talented individual. I’m thinking this is why you understand Michael at such a deep level. Namaste.

    Posted February 23, 2011 at 1:18 am | Permalink
  23. Kim said . . .

    One more comment:
    I’m very grateful for those who helped finished the album. You could see without question, how much they loved Michael and what he meant to them. To hear the stories of how the material came about was just enlightening. I love to hear about the creative process. It just amazes me. These people understood Michael at that creative level, so they knew what he was looking for. So yes Michael didn’t put the finishing touches; however, as someone stated before me, Michael worked with Teddy Riley for many years so it made sense that he would be called to work his magic. He was the “finisher”. Michael would call him to finish his projects in many cases. Why would this be any different? Thank you.

    Posted February 23, 2011 at 1:23 am | Permalink
  24. Isabella said . . .

    Barbara, I thought the same things, I could not agree more. I felt ‘love’ in that album even if some of the voices could be sampled

    Posted March 28, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

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